Welcome to the Gwen S. Cherry Black Women
Greetings GSCBWLA Members and Future Members,
In 2020, this organization will celebrate its 35-year history of advancing Black women lawyers and the community at-large. This milestone in our organization’s history is met at a time when women are gaining unparalleled levels of success in our profession; however, there is still much work to be done. With the spirit of determination and passion for the law, as represented by our namesake, Gwendolyn S. Cherry, who became the first black woman to practice law in Miami in 1965, Black women lawyers will continue to break barriers and forge a pathway to full equality.
It is because of that determination and passion that I am extremely excited and humbled to serve as President of Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association for the 2019-2020 term. I look forward to working with our new board, our members, and the community to continue the march toward equality, with renewed emphasis on breaking down the barriers that we seem to have become numb to.
Study after study shows that the law is one of the least diverse professions in the nation and we, as lawyers, aren’t doing enough to change that. Study after study shows that we have some of the highest rates of substance abuse and mental health issues of any profession. It’s not a coincidence, and again, we are not doing enough to change it.
Over the last several years, I’ve attended several informative seminars on pay disparity, diversity and inclusion, implicit bias, high minority attrition rates at law firms, mental health, etc. I received a lot of great information, but it soon became clear that the people who needed the information the most were not in the room. In addition, somewhere along the way, the focus shifted to topics like how to succeed in spite of certain barriers. The speakers essentially tell us how to cope with being paid less for the same work; how to cope with being underrepresented; how to cope with being treated unfairly. We spend our time learning how to cope with being in a constant state of stress.
I do believe it’s important that we teach each other how to overcome barriers and how to cope when you simply can’t overcome; however, I fear that in doing so, we lost focus on the primary objective. Not simply overcoming barriers but TEARING THEM DOWN. We should be seeking justice within our own profession with the same fervor that we seek it for our clients.
It’s with this objective in mind that I approached GSCBWLA’s planning objectives for the year ahead. This year, we will celebrate our triumphs on the path toward equality, scrutinize the effectiveness of proposed solutions, and forge the path forward to even greater successes together in collaboration with our allies.
I am forever grateful for your trust and support.
In Solidarity,Brendalyn Edwards
Brendalyn Edwards, Esq.
Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association