Magazine article Black Enterprise

And Justice for All

Magazine article Black Enterprise

And Justice for All

Article excerpt

A free negro of the African race, whose ancestors were brought to this country and sold as slaves, is not a 'citizen' within the meaning of the Constitution of the United States.

This assertion, made by the United States Supreme Court during Dred Scott, Plaintiff in Error v. John F.A. Sanford, pretty much sums up what protections the law afforded black people in 1856--to be specific, none. In rendering the infamous Dred Scott decision. Chief Justice Roger Taney stated clearly that blacks "had no rights to which the white man was bound to respect."

When you stop to think that this decision was rendered less than 150 years ago, it is nothing short of miraculous that there are now more than 20,000 black attorneys. And neither Scott nor Taney could have foreseen that African Americans, such as my good friend, New York State Supreme Court Justice Lewis L. Douglass, would not only excel as practitioners of law, but distinguish themselves as judges at every level of our legal system, including the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Douglass, a one-time executive of my company, grew up with me in my old Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. His son, David, and his daughter, Lori, are also accomplished attorneys.

Today's legal professionals, including the outstanding lawyers featured in this landmark issue of BLACK ENTERPRISE, stand on the broad shoulders of black attorneys who fought for justice within a legal system designed to frustrate and defeat them. Without the courage and conviction of brilliant lawyers such as Thurgood Marshall, A. …

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