Saturday, June 10, 2023

Kerry James Marshall Designs Project Recalling Exclusion of Black Lawyers

Kerry James Marshall. <i>Many Mansions</i>, 1994

Kerry James Marshall. Many Mansions, 1994

Chicago artist Kerry James Marshall is designing a 37-foot-high monument in Des Moines, Iowa, on the city’s Principal Riverwalk, commemorating the black lawyers in the state who formed the National Bar Association in 1925. According to the Des Moines Register:

Back in 1925, black lawyers in Iowa, excluded from the American Bar Association, founded an alternative called the National Bar Association (NBA). The irony of discrimination happening in the very place we look to for justice – the legal profession – was compounded by the blatancy of the offense. “If you didn’t tell them you were black, you could join,” says a former NBA president, Judge Odell McGhee. The first meeting was attended by lawyers from all over the country. No state bar admitted blacks.

Marshall’s installation will depict two African “talking drums,” one on top of the other, slightly off center. They represent the goal of equal justice and the occasional imbalance. The base of the work will serve as a stage, with an engraving of the First Amendment on it. Construction is scheduled to begin next year.

Via the Des Moines Register and the ABA Journal.


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  • john viramontes

    would love to see it some day…

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