At Guerra King, diversity, equity and inclusion are at the core of who we are. Our celebration of different perspectives helps make us better litigators, better lawyers and better human beings.
The mission of Guerra King’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee is to promote and support diversity within our firm, to encourage opportunities for our employees to grow in their own understanding of diversity, and to promote equal opportunity for all. We recognize that diversity is of utmost importance in today’s workplace environment. Our firm celebrates the full spectrum of race, gender & gender identity, sexual orientation, familial status, religion, ethnicity, national origin, social background, physical disability, veteran status, and age. We believe such diversity and inclusivity provides an invaluable benefit to our clients and that we produce superior outcomes as a result of our inclusive environment. Diverse teams make better decisions, and we want our teams to reflect the clients we represent, the decisions makers we persuade, and the communities we serve. During this unprecedented global pandemic, we all leaned into our core values to get through these difficult times together. We will continue to strive for more knowledge, better understanding, and more opportunities to embrace the diversity of not only our team, but also our clients and community.
The Committee is Co-Chaired by Ailen Cruz and Chemere Ellis and includes members from every part of the Guerra King team: shareholders, associates, paralegals, and legal assistants. The Committee’s mission is to promote and support diversity within our firm, to encourage opportunities for our employees to grow in their own understanding of diversity, and to promote equal opportunity for all to better represent the communities we serve.
Guerra King proudly renewed its Gold level sponsorship for the George Edgecomb Bar Association’s (GEBA) 39th Annual Scholarship Banquet on April 18, 2022. GEBA is Tampa’s largest predominately African American voluntary bar association and is dedicated to the promotion and recognition of African Americans within the legal profession and the judiciary. The theme of this year’s Scholarship Banquet was, “Investing Today for a Better Tomorrow,” and featured the Honorable J. Machelle Sweeting, acting Justice of the New York State Supreme Court, as the keynote speaker, who gave an inspiring speech on the value of diversity in education and the legal profession. This year, GEBA honored five brilliant high school students who have already achieved greatness in the face of tremendous obstacles.
GEBA’s Scholarship Program and its community partners have awarded more than $250,000 in scholarships to college-bound students in Hillsborough County, and Guerra King is honored to play a role in this cause. For more information about GEBA’s Annual Scholarship Banquet, please visit its website here: https://www.mygeba.com/scholarships.
February is Black History Month in the U.S. thanks, in large part, to the efforts of Dr. Carter Woodson, a Black historian who believed that young African Americans were not being taught enough of their own heritage.
In February 1924, Dr. Woodson founded “Negro History Week,” which inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize celebrations, establish history clubs, and host performances and lectures about Black History. Dr. Woodson selected February because it contained the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two men whose achievements have helped to advance the causes of African Americans. The weeklong commemoration of Black History gained significant traction and, during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, it evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses. President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, beseeching the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” So, this month, and every month, let us honor:
- Shirley Chisolm: the first Black woman elected to Congress in 1969 and the first woman to run for a presidential nomination in 1972. Her slogan, “Unbought and Unbossed,” was a true representation of her commitment to fighting for the American people.
- Bayard Rustin: who organized and strategized the March on Washington in 1963. As a gay man with potential ties to communism, he was considered too much of a liability to be on the frontlines of the movement, so he worked tirelessly in the shadows to serve his community, pushing for more jobs and better wages.
- Claudette Colvin: the first woman to be detained for resistance in connection with Civil Rights. She was just 15 years old in 1955 when she refused to sit in the back of a bus, citing her constitutional rights, and was subsequently arrested – nine months before Rosa Parks’ historic event sparked the Civil Rights Movement.
- Gwendolyn Brooks: the first Black author to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1950 and first Black woman to serve as a poetry consultant to the Library of Congress. She was the poet laureate of the State of Illinois and her works reflected the political and social landscape of the 1960s and the Civil Rights Movement. See a list of her iconic poems here: https://www.literaryladiesguide.com/classic-women-authors-poetry/11-iconic-poems-by-gwendolyn-brooks/
- Marsha P. Johnson: a Black transwoman and activist who was the forefront of the LGBTQ movement in the 1980s and 1990s. She was a cofounder of STAR, an organization that houses homeless, queer youth, and she fought for equality through the Gay Liberation Front.
Happy Black History Month from the D&I Committee, and may we continue to learn and grown in our understanding of American History.
Additional Resources and Information:
Contribute to the Federal Bar Association’s YLD Black History Month Book Drive here: Amazon Custom Gift List. Visit the Dr. Carter Woodson Museum in St. Pete.: https://woodsonmuseum.org/. Attorneys – register for free to attend GEBA’s annual Black History Month Reception on February 28, 2022 here: https://forms.gle/MzaFi84Tf93fAsAX8.