This spring, as happens every year, thousands of prospective lawyers graduated from law schools throughout the nation and the world. These ambitious young people are on the threshold of new careers in which many will excel and become the leaders of tomorrow.
Looking at people in high government offices, elective positions, and corporate leaders, it is well known that lawyers are among the most populous of the occupations from which these individuals who are leaders within the nation come. Although there are jokes made about lawyers on a regular basis, it is a fact that it is a prestigious profession which generally commands respect and honor.
There was a period in history when Japanese Americans became lawyers but could not get jobs because of discrimination and prejudice against them before World War II began. They faced much of the same discrimination that was hurdled at African American young college students at that time.
It was my privilege this year to attend the graduation ceremony of the Howard University School of Law to which we were invited by an outstanding young friend who was in the graduating class of 2010. Seeing and hearing from these young people as they embark on the next phase of their lives was inspiring.
Howard University was chartered by the United States Congress as a coeducational private institution in Washington, D.C. in 1867. Howard is a historically black institution which offers an exceptional educational experience to students from many different backgrounds. Although it is still primarily a black university, it embraces many different cultures. Howard University is located in northwest Washington, D.C. with the law school on a separate campus about fifteen minutes away.
The Howard University School of Law was opened in 1869 at a time when there was dramatic change going on in the country. Black lawyers were being trained who had a strong commitment to helping black Americans secure and protect the rights which they so recently had obtained. The six students in the first class met in the evening in the homes or offices of the part-time faculty members. The law school has been fulfilling its mission for social justice for more than 133 years.
Howard University School of Law was originally created to provide a legal education for Americans who were traditionally excluded from the profession. The law school today is continuing the important work for which it was started.
Many outstanding young people graduate from the various schools of law throughout the country each year with high hopes and great ambition. They will study hard for a few months before they take the bar exam. Then they make their mark as they enter the prestigious vocation of the practice of law and become full fledged attorneys in an ever changing and challenging world where their leadership will be needed.