2018 Unity Bar Dinner
by Aparna Agnihotri
On November 1, 2018, the Unity Bar of Sacramento held its 31st Annual Dinner at The Grand in downtown Sacramento. The South Asian Bar Association of Sacramento (SABA) hosted the annual event this year. Representatives from six affiliates of the Sacramento County Bar Association assisted with the planning of the much-anticipated dinner: Asian/Pacific Bar Association of Sacramento (ABAS), Cruz Reynoso Bar Association (CRBA), Leonard M. Friedman Bar Association (LMFBA), SacLegal, Wiley W. Manuel Bar Association (WMBA), and Women Lawyers of Sacramento (WLS).
The evening focused on the themes related to the South Asian holiday of Diwali, which is the festival of lights, reminding guests of the importance of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. As host this year, SABA infused the evening with South Asian culture. The event kicked off with a special performance by a dhol player, who played a traditional drum often used to commemorate auspicious celebrations. While nearly 280 guests of distinguished judges, lawyers, and law students enjoyed a special Indian buffet, and a dance troupe enthralled the audience with a high-energy bhangra performance, which is a folk dance originating from the Punjab region of India. Guests were surrounded by the vibrant touches of South Asian decor and even had the opportunity to receive henna designs on their hands.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge and SABA co-founder Shama Mesiwala presided over the program as Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening. The keynote speaker was Paul Grewal, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Litigation at Facebook Inc. and former United States Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of California. Grewal participated in a question and answer-formatted conversation with former SABA co-president Vishali Singal, in which Grewal provided insightful advice for law students, reflected on his cultural heritage and distinguished legal career, and spoke candidly about the challenges social media technology companies face in the current political landscape.
Each of the minority affiliates which comprise the Unity Bar of Sacramento awarded scholarships to deserving law students. The event also recognized individuals and organizations within the community that serve minority communities. The Community Service Award winners this year were Hmong Innovating Politics (ABAS), Sacramento City Councilmember Eric Guerra (CRBA), Camp Nefesh (LMFBA), Sitra Thiayagarajah of My Sister’s House (SABA), Lavender Library, Archives, and Cultural Exchange (SacLegal), Celebration Arts (WMBA), and Single Mom Strong (WLS).
The 2018 Unity Dinner was a festive and energizing evening, celebrating new legal talent joining the communities of the affiliate bar associations, honoring dedicated community service champions of the greater Sacramento region, and celebrating diversity.