Events examine diversity in legal profession, honor W. George Allen
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With two special events on Friday, the University of Florida Levin College of Law will explore diversity in the legal profession and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the graduation of W. George Allen, who helped pave the way for generations of students in Florida by becoming the first African-American to graduate from the University of Florida and UF Law.
The first event, “Leadership and Law: Diverse Perspectives on the Role of Race and Participation in Professional Legal Organizations,” will examine the fact that even today legal bar associations are often divided by color lines, decades after becoming officially integrated. The trend follows from the local level all the way to the national level. The goal of the event is to foster a dialogue on avenues for leadership and joint initiatives that transcend racial and other divides.
“Leadership and Law” begins with a reception and luncheon at noon, followed by the discussion from 1 to 2:30 p.m. The panel will feature leaders from national, state, and local bar associations, including the immediate-past president of the National Bar Association, Daryl Parks. Law students and anyone in the legal community are encouraged to attend.
The symposium is a joint initiative of UF Law’s Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations, the Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Association, The Florida Bar and the Josiah T. Walls Bar Association.
The George Allen “celebration” will be held at 3 p.m. in UF Law’s Chesterfield Smith Ceremonial Classroom. It is co-sponsored by the University of Florida Alumni Association and Association of Black Alumni, Levin College of Law and Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations. The event is free and open to the public.
The program will be hosted by UF Association of Black Alumni President Terry Nealy and Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations Director Katheryn Russell-Brown, with comments from UF Law Dean Robert Jerry, UF Provost Joseph Glover, Northern Florida District Judge Stephan Mickle and attorney Harley Herman. There will also be reflections from UF Law alumni and attorneys including Ava Parker and Chris Chestnut.
Presentations will feature a keynote speech from Allen, a look back at the desegregation of Florida and the legacy of Virgil Hawkins. Hawkins was denied admission to UF Law in 1949 based solely on his race and fought for admission until 1958, when he withdrew his application in exchange for a Florida Supreme Court order desegregating UF’s graduate and professional schools.
The celebration will conclude with the unveiling of a special plaque on the UF Law campus honoring Allen.
Allen was accepted into UF Law in 1960, after having graduated from Florida A&M and serving two years in the Army. Living in California at the time, Allen turned down other law school acceptances at Berkeley and Harvard – he said he was intent on returning to the South to be where the “action” was, referring to the civil rights struggles that were bubbling to the surface throughout the lower states.
After graduating from UF Law in 1962, Allen moved to Fort Lauderdale, where he helped lead the fight for the integration of Broward County’s public school system, and established his own practice, where he has specialized in trial work, probate, personal injury, insurance defense and wrongful death law.
The 3 p.m. Allen celebration kicks off UF’s Black Alumni Weekend in Gainesville, Oct. 12–14. The weekend honors civil rights pioneers who were instrumental in desegregating the state’s universities and offers the opportunity to reunite Gators from every decade so they leave Gainesville closer and stronger than ever before. Read more at http://aba.ufalumni.ufl.edu/programs-and-events/.
Please note that the Black Alumni Weekend Friday Reception is occurring at the University Women’s Club from 5 to 7 p.m. The reception was previously scheduled to occur at the law school. The address to the University Women’s Club is:
University Women’s Club
324 Woodlawn Drive
Gainesville, FL 32611
Driving directions from the law school: Leave the UF Levin College of Law parking lot and head to SW 2nd Avenue (street that runs parallel to University Avenue). Make a right on Woodlawn Drive (Directly after the new Tennis Pavilion). University Women’s Club will be on your right (next to the Basketball Practice Facility)