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Black History Month Trailblazers

They Paved the Way in Law



Throughout history, there have been those driven to make a difference in the world, and others who simply acted with courage and dignity at some point during their lives. In either case, the result was the same – they left a legacy – they paved the way for another to succeed because they did something first. For Black History Month, we are celebrating trailblazers, both past and present, who are paving the way.









Trailblazers: They Paved the Way in Law


Thurgood Marshall

Dennis Archer

Thurgood Marshall was nominated to be a Supreme Court justice in 1967. At that time, very few lawyers in history had argued — and won — more cases before the nation’s highest court. He racked up 29 wins, including his most famous victory, Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 landmark decision that forced public schools to desegregate.

Marshall is arguably the most pivotal figure in the destruction of Jim Crow, and the most consequential lawyer of the 20th century. While other civil rights leaders organized strategically vital sit-ins, marches, and boycotts, Marshall attacked inequality and racism within America's legal system. 

In 2003, Archer became the first Black president of the American Bar Association (ABA), 60 years after the ABA started allowing black lawyers to join the association. In 2016, he was the recipient of the ABA Medal, the association’s highest award. 

Throughout his career, Archer had leadership positions with several bar associations, specifically those for lawyers of color. He was on the board of directors for the Detroit Bar Association. He was president of the Wolverine Bar Association, the National Bar Association, and the State Bar of Michigan. Archer stayed involved with the ABA, dedicating his presidency to encouraging greater diversity within the legal profession.



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