Wiley W. Manuel Bar Association Honors Black History Month
by Carmen-Nicole Cox
The Wiley W. Manuel Bar Association (WMBA) celebrated Black History Month 2019 with events to enrich the mind and spirit. On February 27, the group held its 7th annual “Literacy Liberates” book drive at Underground Books in the Oak Park neighborhood. All donated books are for the exclusive benefit of the Sacramento County Youth Detention Facility. The books provide more than just a pastime for the residents of juvenile hall. The youth can earn prizes and privileges based on the number of books they read and review. Additionally, residents can earn their own copy of their favorite book or magazine. This year’s book drive collected more than 100 books, including numerous copies of the extremely popular novel, The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas.
Keynote speaker Commissioner Carlton Davis spoke passionately about the work he is doing inside of the Youth Detention Facility through a program called Contracts for Success. The Contracts for Success program brings lawyers, judges, educators, and other professionals into the facility to encourage and assist residents to obtain their high school or equivalency diploma. Davis’s speech was so moving that he recruited several new volunteers to support his efforts. The sweetest moments of the night involved Thema Simmons, a former resident of the Youth Detention Facility who is now a college student taking classes to earn her AA degree (she aspires to become a probation officer). After she read several of her recently published poems, she was surprised by the formal presentation of her high school diploma. There were very few dry eyes in the room.
Building on that energy, the next day, the WMBA and Women Lawyers of Sacramento (WLS) presented another successful joint luncheon in honor of Black History Month. This year the luncheon highlighted the relationship between the 19th and 20th century civil rights movements and the women rights movements of the same periods. WMBA and WLS invited Sacramento City Attorney Susana Alcala Wood, Assistant City Attorney Sandra Talbott, and City Councilmember Angelique Ashby to discuss how the marches, protests, and impact litigation born in the civil rights movement catalyzed women to seek equal rights and full political participation. Throughout the moderated discussion, panelists offered personal stories of success in the face of continued struggle for equity and parity in the workplace. Each panelist encouraged attendees not only to speak truth to power, but also to lift up and support one another as we all work together to seek better outcomes for all – regardless of race and gender.
The WMBA welcomes the Sacramento community to attend its events and to watch out for Legal Fusion, a scholarship and awards gala, in summer 2019.