Explore The History of the Black Vote

“NBC News has assembled for the first time a record of the black vote for each competitive Democratic presidential campaign since exit polling began.”

According to NBC News, Black voters are likely to account for at least 25% of all ballots cast in the democratic party’s presidential primaries, more than tripling — almost quadrupling — the number of votes we accounted for just a few decades ago.

Take a stroll through history and learn more about the major societal changes that were made possible by help from Black voters.

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C-level diversity officers tackle diversity in law firms

The American Lawyer sat down with five law firm diversity executives to ask them about the current events and diversity-related trends they see on the job. These C-level executives include Fenimore Fisher of DLA Piper, Yusuf Zakir of Holland & Knight, Lloyd Freeman of Archer, Paulette Brown of Locke Lord and Kori Carew of Seyfarth Shaw.

A common thread that was shared among all responses was a need for these executives to be unapologetically courageous in addressing diversity issues and working to battle them.

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Judge Orders Psych Eval for Officer who killed Alton Sterling

A Louisiana judge has ordered the city of Baton Rouge to release the psychological evaluation that was used in the hiring of officer Blane Salamoni, who shot and killed 37-year-old Alton Sterling in front of a convenience store in 2016.

The order comes days after Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul apologized on behalf of the department for hiring Salamoni, admitting that the officer had a history of bad behavior prior to the shooting.

Sterling’s killing left many outraged and sparked national protests. Surveillance video from that night showed Sterling packing up the DVDs he was selling when one officer, Howie Lake II, confronted him. Officer Salamoni arrived to assist Lake, and seconds later, shot Sterling in the chest.

The officers were responding to a 911 call of a man with a gun at the store. 

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Cyntoia Brown walks free after serving 15 years of a life sentence

Cyntoia Brown has been released on parole after serving 15 years in prison. Brown was 16 years old when she was sentenced to life in prison for killing a 43-year-old man whom she said had hired her for sex. Though she claimed the killing was done in self-defense, she was tried as an adult and convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree felony murder, and aggravated robbery.

Brown’s story took social media by storm and garnered the attention of celebrities such as Kim Kardashian West who recognized the need for criminal justice reform and rallied for Brown’s release. In January 2019, then-Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam granted Brown a full commutation to parole. Brown will remain on parole for 10 years.

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Charges dropped against Alabama mom whose unborn child died during shooting

An Alabama district attorney dismissed all charges against a mother who was charged with manslaughter following a shooting that resulted in her unborn child’s death. Jones’ attorney Mark White said in a statement that the case was “neither reasonable nor just.”

In regards to her decision to dismiss, Jefferson County District Attorney Lynneice Washington said, “The members of the grand jury took to heart that the life of an unborn child was violently ended and believed someone should be held accountable. But in the interests of all concerned, we are not prosecuting the case.”

The case highlights the ongoing issue of legal “fetal personhood.” This concept treats unborn children as individuals with Constitutional protection. Alabama is one out of almost 40 states where charges can be filed when a fetus dies under a fetal homicide law.

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P&G’s new ad addresses implicit racial bias against Black men

P&G continues to address uncomfortable conversations with, “The Look,” a new ad confronting implicit racial bias against black men. This is not the first time P&G has tackled racism through its marketing campaigns. ‘The Look’ follows ‘The Talk’ which shows the tough conversation that most Black parents must have with their children about being safe in America.

The new ad is meant to address negative stereotypes that were inadvertently perpetuated by ‘The Talk’. Geoff Edwards, a co-founder of Saturday Morning said to P&G exec Randall Smith that the original ad didn’t accurately depict the African-American father figure.

“Our goal with this film is to urge people to have an honest conversation and not pretend that unconscious bias doesn’t exist,” added Edwards. “The film ends with the line ‘Let’s talk about the look so we can see beyond it.’ This is really a call to action for dialogue.”

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ABA Men of Color Project hosts first summit

More than 100 men from all racial backgrounds came together at the first-ever summit held by the American Bar Association dealing with the experience of being a minority in the legal profession. David Morrow, co-founder of the Men of Color Project, described being pleased with the amount of support and the sense of belonging that was displayed at the summit.

Barkari Sellers, the youngest African American to ever be elected to a state house spoke at the summit, encouraging attendees to do two things: take risks early in their careers and have confidence in knowing that they have a right to be there

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New bill requires felons to pay fees before they can vote

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that would make people with felonies pay all of their fines before they are allowed to vote again. The amendment officially went into effect in January of 2019 and allows people convicted of a felony, except for sexual crimes and murder to vote once they “complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation.”

So far, due to the legislation, an estimated 840,000 people would be eligible to register. However, the bill has been criticized by civil rights groups stating that it is similar to a poll tax and that many people convicted of felonies have fines that they could never repay, thus they wouldn’t be able to vote.

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Are clients with ‘Black-sounding’ names underserved?

A study conducted by Yale University lecturer Brian Libgober revealed that clients with Black-sounding names are less likely to get a response from lawyers in states with less legal competition.

Libgober’s California study found that clients with white-sounding names received 50 percent more replies than those with Black-sounding names. However, in a follow-up study conducted in Florida, Libgober found no evidence that lawyers were considering perceived race to determine whether or not to return calls.

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Where are the Black partners in big law?

According to The American Lawyer’s recently released Diversity Scorecard, the firm with the highest percentage of minority attorneys and partners — 32.5% and 23.9%, respectively — also has zero Black partners. Let that marinate.

Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy is a 371-lawyer immigration firm with its primary office in New York. Its top prize in the diversity ranking is a step in the right direction, but I must ask, where are the Black partners?

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