COMMUNITY Arts & Music Judge McGhee: Several lawyers had made a petition to the American Bar Association and all over the country they had been denied. Only one black got in, and then when they figured out it was a black person, they got thrown out. That was the atmosphere of the time, many people will say ‘why was the Bar Association so important?’ well it was at the time the organization that represented the interest of the group. It had a lot of political and social power at the time, so you wanted to be a member because they controlled so much of what was going on. So, it was imperative that if we wanted to be a part of the legal society we needed to be members of the bar association. It was important to be a part of the association because it opened doors for others in so many ways, doors other groups couldn’t open for you. I advocate today we don’t have be apart of what’s going on with everything else we can do stuff for our own so that’s why the NBA stands as a great example of people who said, “we can’t get into yours, we are gonna do our own thing”, and we are going to make it work and that’s what we need to be involved in. We have so many things going on in the world and our community, but we don’t seem to be able to get organized. Judge Hamilton: The interesting thing to is that the American Bar Association had admitted at least one black member and then there was a big uproar so they actually changed the rules to where if you were nonwhite you had to state your race on the application. Then they used that rule and there wasn’t another African American admitted into the American Bar Association until 1948. Judge McGhee: That’s amazing. Dr. Long-Hill: What I also find astonishing is that the five attorneys that started here in Des Moines were local attorneys, Gertrude Rush, James Morris, Charles Howard, Sr., S. Joe Brown, and George Henry Woodson. I think three of the five were officers commissioned at Fort Des Moines so that relationship between the finding and the incorporation of the NAACP is close in the timeline to the National Bar Association. Judge McGhee: Several of the original founders were also founders of the NAACP. The people who started the National Bar Association, they refused to let it die because they didn’t have the backing of the community. August 2019 The URBAN EXPERIENCE 15

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