WHo WE Are
In 1994, attorneys Kendal Tyre, Jr., Don M. Wade and Margaret Williams conceptualized an organization that would not only provide a support network for African American lawyers in the greater Rochester community, but also tap into the resources and network of the National Bar Association (NBA). The NBA, the oldest and largest national association of predominately African-American lawyers and judges, had no affiliate chapter in Rochester at that time. In the fall of 1994, the vision of these attorneys was realized when the Rochester Black Bar Association (RBBA) was formally established.
OUR FIRST MEETING: On April 28, 1995, the RBBA held its first organizational meeting where many African-American attorneys in Monroe County gathered to determine long and short range goals and within the community. Later, drawing on the insight and wisdom of J. Richard Everett, Esq., the Honorable Roy Wheatley King and Rozetta Darby McDowell, Esq, icons in Rochester’s African American legal community, the RBBA’s leadership further expanded its efforts toward mentoring, legal education and community service.
COMMUNITY DISCUSSION: The RBBA hosted its first legal roundtable discussion, “Race and the Law,” in March of 1999. The seminar addressed issues of inequality in the judicial system and focused on approaches toward their resolution. One of the earliest and noteworthy community service endeavors undertaken by the RBBA was its Computers in the Community Initiative. In April of 1999, the RBBA provided computers to Rochester City Schools and Baden Street Settlement. This initiative culminated in a dedication ceremony at Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery. RBBA gained national attention when Clyde E. Bailey, Sr., RBBA Member and patent counsel at the Eastman Kodak Company, was elected as the 61st President of the NBA. In October of 2003, the RBBA hosted the NBA’s 15th Annual Wiley A. Branton Issues Symposium. In addition to hosting a reception for NBA representatives at Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery, the RBBA paid tribute to the Honorable Rueben K. Davis, the Honorable Charles K. Willis and J. Richard Everett, Esq. at the RBBA’s first annual Awards Scholarship Dinner.
OUR CONTINUED GROWTH: The RBBA established its presence internationally when a delegation of forty NBA attorneys including Mr. Bailey, RBBA past President T. Andrew Brown and Yohannes Assefa traveled to South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe in June of 2004 as part of an official delegation to southern Africa. The delegation attended the International Affiliate Meeting, where the NBA’s highest honor was bestowed upon Botswana’s President H.E., Festus Mogae for lifetime contributions to advancing the cause of democracy and human rights. The number of African American attorneys who live and work within the Rochester area has increased. The RBBA continues to address challenges these attorneys face by creating an environment of support for African American lawyers in the Rochester community.