Ask any member of the African American community if they are familiar with the school to prison pipeline, and many will greet the question with affirmation. The Wolverine Bar Association in Detroit is working toward a solution, using their own version of a pipeline to impact the Black community. The end result is much more promising for African Americans and other minorities.
In a society where many minorities are still facing injustice, Alex Simpson, president of the Wolverine Bar Association, explains, “… we don’t endorse political candidates, but … we enhance the political system by supporting the diversity in the legal system.”
Since its inception in the 1930s, the Wolverine Bar Association has been on a mission to “coordinate the energies and talents of the increasing number of African Americans admitted to [law] practice throughout Michigan.” The organization is doing just that, carrying out this mission to inspire success in Black law professionals. Each year, the non-profit makes it a priority to invest in the education of aspiring legal professionals in Michigan by providing scholarships as well as other programs and initiatives that will grant students the resources they will need to conquer a career in law.
Contributing to the change many minorities are hoping to see in the U.S., the organization is putting a positive spin on the term “pipeline” that the African American community has become so familiar with. The WBA’s pipeline program helps ensure that students are on the right track to achieve their career goals through developing educational programming that targets middle and high school students. One of the organization’s most recent efforts to impact these children and young adults has been the “Career Buddies” initiative, in which Osborne High School students will be paired with mentors from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit, who will act as mentors to promote academic and personal growth.
Simpson, elaborates on WBA’s impact on students.
“We had attorneys and judges engaged in a mock trial project at Mumford High School, and … there was a documentary of the whole mock trial process,” he revealed.
In addition to ushering grade school students into careers where they will be able to exercise a voice for the people, the WBA also offers scholarships annually, as well as a judicial externship program, Minority Bar Passage Program, and summer clerkship for law students who are looking to enter firms, as well as those looking to start their own. One of their annual signature fundraisers through the Wolverine Bar Foundation is the Barrister’s Ball. The ball commemorates the WBA’s 90-plus years of commitment to diversity, excellence in the legal profession and improvement to the quality of life in the metropolitan Detroit area. The theme for this year’s black tie affair is “The Past Remembered and Reclaimed” and will take place Saturday, April 7th, from 9pm-1am at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center located in downtown Detroit. Since its inception, the Foundation has served as a force of change in Michigan and has awarded thousands of dollars in scholarships to area law students, fostered attorney participation in pro bono activities aimed at benefiting the public, and sponsored community outreach programs and seminars on legal issues designed to improve the quality of life in the communities where they practice.
Indeed, the Wolverine Bar Association is a force in creating the change we want to see.
More information regarding the Wolverine Bar Association and its many initiatives including the Barrister’s Ball, can be found at WolverineBar.org.