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10 Goal IX 1 (2004)

handle is hein.journals/goal10 and id is 1 raw text is: P      r e s i d e n t    E I e c t
R o b e r t        J .    G  r e y ,     J

On the second Tuesday of August
2003 in San Francisco, in the well of
the ABA House of Delegates, Dennis
W. Archer received the gavel of the
organization's presidency and, in that
moment, irrefutably demonstrated
that there exists no height within the
ABA that a lawyer of color cannot
Then, as if to put an exclamation on
the point, I was elected president-
elect. It was as if to say, and let there
be no doubt!
The moment was both bittersweet
and uplifting. Bittersweet in its
reminder of the lost opportunity of so
many whose talents and ambition
were overshadowed by the time and
place in which they were born. But it
was uplifting in the knowledge that
the days ahead are brighter than the
days behind.
As triumphant as these moments
are, we know that they do not happen
in an instant. San Francisco 2003 was
not an earthquake, a massive shift
from prior nothingness. Our progress
in diversity has been more like rolling
thunder; starting small, soft, and far-
away and gathering energy and voice,
power and volume.
The life of this association, this pro-
fession, and this country is the same:
Out of overt oppression came practical
exclusion, out of practical exclusion
came a break, a small window where
a brave few let in the light and
showed the way for more to follow.

As this journey has continued,
we've tasted success. Lawyers of color
are general counsels of multinational
corporations, managing partners of
big firms, and leaders of the largest
bar associations. The work has been
engaged, but it is far from done. Not
by a long shot.
And it may not even be done in our
Not in our lifetime? This sobering
thought can easily disappoint and dis-
courage us. At times we all feel the
exasperation of the lawyer quoted by
J. Cunyon Gordon in her beautiful and
poignant piece in the Spring 2003
issue of this publication: I'm tired of
fighting that fight. After a while, I just
get tired.
But the greatest feats of mankind
were all multigenerational challenges,
each doing its part, advancing the
cause and then leaving the endeavor
in the hands of its sons and daughters.
The work is about each and every one
of us.

By ourselves, we do not change the
world when we visit an underprivi-
leged middle school and teach the
students that nothing can stop them
from becoming lawyers if they have
the will and dedication.
By ourselves, we do not change the
world when we mentor an associate
in our firm, giving guidance, advice,
and a helping hand so that in his or
her own success, that lawyer will do
the same.
By ourselves, we do not change the
world when we foster diversity pro-
grams in our firms and companies to
educate and inspire, to shape the dia-
logue, to improve our understanding.
By ourselves, we do not change the
world when we insist that our law
schools make greater gains in the
inclusion of the full rainbow of
American youth.
But together, in all that we do, in
how we represent others and our-
selves, we do change the world.
We are lawyers, and thus have
been entrusted to uphold the
Constitution and the principles of jus-
tice. We are lawyers. And thus our
own personal success can be a beacon
of hope and inspiration to all younger
versions of ourselves.
Robert J. Grey, Jr., a partner in the
Richmond, Virginia, office of Hunton &
Williams, is president-elect of the
American Bar Association. He will
assume his presidency in August 2004.


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