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  • Writer's pictureFletcher Consulting

Pride and Humility at the Boston Bar Association

Let’s celebrate some progress.

Over a decade ago I attended a reception to welcome the Affinity Bar Associations to their new office space at the Boston Bar Association (BBA).

I felt two things.

First, a rush of camaraderie and joy to be among so many Black and brown lawyers of color.

Second, a sense that this space was actually not as diverse as it could be: there were almost no white men. 

Trust me, the BBA had many white men among its members. Where were they? 

I was so troubled by this question that I asked a few of the white men who were there. One of them said, “I wasn’t sure if white people were invited,” he told me. “I called to ask because the invitation said it was for the Affinity Bars.”

The event was actually to welcome the Affinity Bars.

A few weeks ago, I attended the BBA’s Beacon Award event. This event, I was happy to see, was packed with a racially diverse mix of attendees.

I still felt that same delight at the experience of so many people of color together. It was restorative to be in a room of people who really care about DEI, particularly at this moment when it is under attack. 

On top of the great crowd, I was inspired by the event itself: the Beacon Awards honor “individuals, organizations and corporations who are forging innovative paths toward a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community and legal profession.”

I am so grateful to have learned about the incredible leadership of Angela Onwuachi-Willig of Boston University School of Law and the initiatives of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. And of course I was proud to cheer for my friend Beth Chandler, President & CEO of YW Boston, as she was honored for her decades of work on DEI issues. 

I left the event struck by something else this time.

All of the honorees, in their speeches, recognized so many other people. None of them took credit for the whole award. They mentioned their teams: the faculty, administration, and students; the donors and partners; the staff. 

These are some of the most accomplished and hard-working visionaries in Boston, making a measurable impact in terms of equity and justice. And in their time in the spotlight, they demonstrated humility and inclusiveness in accepting it. They know it isn’t all about them, and they wanted us to know it too.

Kudos to the BBA for honoring people doing this work for 14 years now, and for offering this uplifting event for the community.

Pursuing DEI is hard. It’s great to have moments to celebrate the hard work of individuals and organizations. 

And I’m sure the BBA would give credit to everyone on their team who made the event such a success.


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