National Bar Association convening in Houston this week

The National Bar Association (NBA), the nation’s oldest and largest national network of predominantly African-American attorneys and judges (founded 1925), is holding its 42nd Mid-Year Conference here in the Bayou City, March 23 – 27.

Carlos Moore, NBA president

The Defender spoke with the NBA’s 79th president, Carlos Moore, about the focus of the gathering.

DEFENDER: What is the focus of this week’s NBA gathering?

CARLOS MOORE: This is our Mid-Year Conference and Gertrude Rush Awards Dinner. We will focus on voting rights and reparations during the four-day conference. We’ll also honor several jurists and lawyers with the Heman Sweatt Award at a luncheon on Friday at the Marriot Marquis (1777 Walker St., 77010) in downtown Houston, as well as a black-tie dinner where we will be honoring the Gertrude Rush Award recipients on Saturday evening.

DEFENDER: Who was Gertrude Rush?

MOORE: Gertrude Rush was our only lady founder of the National Bar Association. The award bearing her name is our second highest award. We’re looking to honoring Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Congressman Al Green, the mayor of Houston. And we have just very distinguished judges, public servants and lawyers that we’re going to honor on Saturday evening. And there are about five or six people we’ll be honoring on Friday—some federal judges and other jurists. It’s going to be an exciting time.

DEFENDER: Can you summarize some of the work the NBA will do?

MOORE: We’re going to take a deep dive into voting rights and see where we’re and what we need to do to get across the finish line. I still support the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. And hope springs eternal. We’re not going to rest until some version of that is passed by the U.S. Congress and Senate and signed by the president into law. We’re going to make the case for reparations. We’re supporting Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s bill to form reparations commission to study reparations and figure out a viable path forward. I think after 402 years of being over here building this country, it’s high time that we be paid. I don’t think there can be any true reconciliation without recompence, and reparations will be that recompence. I’m happy to be the first NBA president to convene a presidential showcase on reparations.

DEFENDER: Has the organization made a statement regarding the Ketanji Brown Jackson nomination?

MOORE: We have. We have fully endorsed her as being well-qualified. We vetted her, and submitted her name to the White House before she was nominated by President Biden as one of our two people that we endorsed for the position. And we’re happy that he selected her. I was there in DC attending the confirmation hearing and represented the NBA there, as well as the nation’s 67,000 Black lawyers and judges standing with her in support of her nomination. And we are urging the U.S. Senate to swiftly confirm her.

EVENTS OF NOTE

Thursday, March 24

Voting Rights Townhall (open to the public)

Texas Southern University (3100 Cleburne Ave.), 77004, 2p.m. -4p.m.

Friday, March 25

Heman Sweatt Luncheon (ticketed event)

Marriot Marquis, 12:30p.m. – 2p.m.

Saturday, March 26

Reparations Townhall, Presidential Showcase (open to the public)

Marriot Marquis, 9a.m. – 11a.m.

Gertrude E. Rush Awards Luncheon (ticketed event; proof of negative COVID test required or proof of vaccination)

Marriot Marquis, 7p.m. – 10p.m.

AWARDEES

Lifetime Achievement Award

Attorney U. Lawrence Boze

NBA Past President

Presidential Award of Excellence

Texas State Rep. Nicole Collier

Chair, Texas Black Legislative Caucus

Gertrude Rush Award

  • Congressman Al Green
  • Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee
  • Mayor Sylvester Turner
  • Commissioner Rodney Ellis
  • Attorney James Carter
  • Attorney General Aaron D. Ford

Heman Sweatt Award

  • Judge Winston Kidd
  • Judge Alice Bonner
  • Attorney Gary Bledsoe
  • Attorney Marcus V. Brown