Lauren Dollar recently co-wrote the February cover story for KC Counselor magazine. The article was titled, “Desegregating the Bar: The Road to Inclusion.” This well-written article does into detail about how the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association became desegregated.
A snippet from the article:
Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association (KCMBA) is the largest and oldest bar association in the Kansas City metro area. While it now strives to be a champion for diversity and inclusion among the bar and in the greater metro area, our organization was not always such a champion.
From 1884 to 1955, the association was an all-white, all-male organization. The association did not have an official ban preventing black lawyers from joining – as it did with women – but rather the association would simply not admit black lawyers into membership. However, in 1955, a group of 23 men mandated equality and tackled the system that prevented in.
It stated with a meeting of the Urban League of Kansas City. The Urban League is a civil rights organization that collaborates with national and local leaders to improve the lives of those historically underserved. In early 1955, three local attorneys were attending an Urban League meeting: Irving Achtenberg, Harold Holliday Sr., and the Hon. Howard Sachs.
During this meeting, thee attorneys were discussing the recent appointment of the first black judge in Kansas City, the Hon. Carl R. Johnson. Achtenberg, Holliday and Judge Sachs noted the incongruousness of a local judge being ineligible to join the most prominent bar association in town. The men began work that night to ensure the association would be open to all lawyers, no matter their race. They set out on a mission to change minds, tradition and laws.
The KC Counselor is the monthly magazine of Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association. In addition to in-depth articles such has Lauren’s, the magazine also covers activities and accomplishments of KCMBA members, and provides information on KCMBA events.