I meditated for a while about what I would blog about for the month of March. I kept trying to figure out how I could cleverly present to you some useful legal advice, which you could put in your BOSS informational arsenal. However, as I pondered about what legal advice to provide, I realized that you would need more than one blog to understand ANY legal subject matter. I, also, figured that I could present to you a more interesting read. I mean who REALLY wants to read about contracts?
I was moved about sharing with the wonderful women of the BOSS Network, why I do what I do. I wanted to share with you the duty that I have to my community having the honor of serving as an attorney. In the spirit of Women’s History Month, which is right after African-American History Month, I felt that this was the most appropriate subject matter.
I thank my mother for exposing me to my history early on in my life. My mother would take me to the library and require me to check out books that were about the lives of famous and historical African-Americans. To ensure that I actually read the books, my mother would then make me write a book report about what I read. All of this was independent and outside what I was being taught in school. During this time I learned about the lives of Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, Mary McLeod Bethune, Malcolm X, Dr. William Cosby, Althea Gibson and many, many more.
While embracing the stories of these courageous men and women, I noticed a common theme in all of their stories: they were all dedicated servants to their communities and the fight against the rampant injustices in American society. In every story that I read, each person realized early in his or her life that this journey was not just about them. They dutifully saw the bigger picture.
Take Mary McLeod Bethune for example, which was one of my favorite biographical reads. Bethune, the daughter of slaves, became one of the most progressive educators and best businesswomen in the nation during her time. She dedicated her life to providing quality education to African American students in a school that she founded and helped fund. Her lifetime accomplishments go above and beyond what I am able to blog about. However, when commenting about the historical overturn of Plessy v. Ferguson (U.S. Supreme Court case that adopted the practice that it was legal for African Americans to receive “separate but equal” access to public facilities and accommodations), Bethune wrote, “We must gain full equality in education ...in the franchise... in economic opportunity, and full equality in the abundance of life.”* At no point did she ever refer to her service from an “I” perspective. She spoke for and worked for the greater “we”. She dutifully saw the bigger picture. The same goes for the others that I read about.
That’s why I do what I do. I realize that my practice in the law is not just about me. I became a lawyer to serve as a resource to my family and my community. I serve as a lawyer to protect our future, to fight against injustices and to make sure we have a voice throughout the process. You may not know every battle in which I am engaged but know that I’m in the trenches, with many others. Yes, I close deals and I make sure we’re, at least, at the table. Yes, I review contracts and I make sure that we, at least, have a perspective. Yes, I try cases and I make sure that, at least, we are on the jury. In every aspect of what I do, I bring my view. My view is that of a Black woman, from the south side of Chicago who wants economic, educational and abundant equality for us. I want the same for us as those who came before us. We have made tremendous strides, but take it from a woman in the legal arena, we still have a very long way to go.
I'm reminded everyday of why I do what I do. Thank you to those who came before me who fought for my opportunity to keep fighting.
I dutifully see the bigger picture. It’s not just about me.
*"Mary McLeod Bethune." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 03 Nov. 2012. Web. 1 Mar. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_McLeod_Bethune>.
Dartesia A. Pitts is an attorney based out of Chicago, IL. Follow her @DAPLegalTip. You can contact or learn more about her on www.DAPLegal.com.