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Lawyers and the 'Nonviolent Revolution'

Interviewed by ABC's Charles Gibson last night, U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) described the outcome of this election as a "nonviolent revolution." I tend to be an optimist, but, until recently, I doubted I would see a black president in my lifetime. I could only hope my children might see it in their own lifetimes. Even in recent weeks, as Barack Obama's election seemed more certain, the pundits' continuing discussion of the "Bradley effect" left a question mark hovering over my hope.

Rep. Lewis pegged it: What happened yesterday truly was revolutionary. This election marks a point in history in which our nation and our selves set off in a new and better direction. I mean this not in a partisan sense, although I am unabashedly happy to see blue back on the map. In just my own sheltered life as a white person living in a liberal state, I have seen enough of racism to know how pernicious and deep-rooted it can be. That our country is finally able to judge a man by who he is rather than by what he looks like affirms how far we've come as a nation.

So as Obama took the stage last night and so many eyes welled up with tears, I felt something beyond my pride in the moment, and that was pride in my chosen profession. I thought back to all the unsung lawyers who for so many years fought to bring our country to this point. I thought of all the civil rights lawyers who fought for decades in big cities and rural communities all across the country. I thought of voting rights lawyers who fought to enfranchise the disenfranchised. I thought of trial lawyers who went to court to battle against discrimination in our workplaces and our schools.

This is a proud day for lawyers. It is a proud day not merely because one of our own is on his way to the White House. Rather, it is a proud day because we helped blaze the trail that brought us here. Ours is a profession whose overarching purpose is to seek justice and equality for all. Every lawyer knows those frustrating days when that goal seems impossible to achieve. Much as we might wonder on those days whether we are making even the slightest progress, this election proves just how far we've come. Had it not been for the countless lawyers who took up the cause of equality, this day might not have arrived.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on November 5, 2008 at 08:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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