It is an honor and privilege to lead the D. Augustus Straker Bar Association this coming bar year as its 27th President. Our theme this year is "Improving Our Future By Building On Our Past.”
On October 4, 1990, our founders established the D. Augustus Straker Bar Association as a proactive organization of diverse attorneys with a mission of promoting legal practice opportunities for people of color and facilitating equal justice for all citizens in Oakland County. Our mission has since expanded, as we work to deliver opportunities for attorneys throughout the region. Ultimately, it is our goal to carry on, and build upon, the illustrious legacy of David Augustus Straker.
From the founding of the Straker Bar Association, as an Affiliate Chapter of the National Bar Association, Straker has worked to make a significant, positive contribution to the legal profession. In doing so, Straker maintains its goals of increasing diversity in the legal profession and providing legal services to underserved communities. Our twenty-seven year history exemplifies our commitment to achieving these goals.
We will strive to expand our legal outreach in Oakland County and beyond to low-income and underserved communities. We look forward to engaging in more pro bono work this year and enhancing our collaborations with other affinity bar associations. We will continue to provide excellent services to our members, including exclusive employment opportunities, tailored and informative membership meetings, and networking events.
Now in its 27th year, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major for Justice Oral Advocacy Competition was initiated by the Straker Bar Association through one of its founders, A. Kay Stanfield Spinks. The MLK oral advocacy event is now a marquee event of the National Bar Association and has been for some time, open to National Bar Association Affiliate Chapters in 40 States and culminating with the announcement of the winner at the National Convention.
Our other main programming includes the Bar Passage Program for the February Bar and the Corporate Counsel Breakfast. The Corporate Counsel Breakfast will assist our members in networking with corporate counsel partners. We hope to expand the scope of the event to attract in-house counsel from an even wider market of corporations. During our annual Trailblazers Dinner, we will continue to award worthy law students with scholarships and honor those individuals who made an indelible mark on our profession.
Most of all, considering the current climate in our community and around the nation, the D. Augustus Straker Bar Association will take a more proactive role in being a voice for people of color. We will stand up against injustice and refuse to remain silent in the presence of inequality. With this principle as our guide, we will be offering a number of initiatives and programs to support and enrich the communities in which we serve, including “Know Your Rights” and Expungement seminars and community events.
It is with great anticipation and pride in our membership that I hope to carry the torch of our past presidents and founders. It is its enduring devotion to service, its tireless work toward professional advancement, and its dedication to ensuring equal access to justice that distinguishes the D. Augustus Straker Bar Association. And it is my goal to write another successful chapter in this organization’s storied history.
Very truly yours,
Vassal N. Johnson II