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The National Conference of Black Lawyers

Today as virtually never before in our history, Black communities across the nation face a crisis of racism which threatens not merely our constitutional rights but our homes, our safety, and our survival.

Political offices at the highest level are won by those most committed to the cynical campaign cry of law and order which in fact, mandates calm in the ghetto through a mobilization of laws and at the sacrifice of justice.

Investigatory commissions find that white racism is at the core of the nation’s most serious domestic problem, and yet society’s major response is acceleration of the police weapons race to the point that the smallest disturbance in a Black area initiates an invasion of police armed with instruments of war and destruction, ready to intimidate, maim and kill if necessary, to suppress the Black community.

The systematic suppression of Black people continues notwithstanding the plethora of court decisions, civil rights law, anti-poverty legislation, human relations commissions, enlarged political representation and the other symbolic promises to Blacks which serve as this society’s substitute for true equality.

The Black revolution sparked by the growing realization that White America does not intend to deal with Black people in accordance with Constitutional standards presents the concerned Black lawyer with questions of the most serious nature, the answer to which necessitates a re-evaluation of his role and his· relationship to the Black community.

To the extent that the Black revolution call for an attack on institutional and structural racism in this country, combatting the crisis of maladministration of justice, and enlisting the total Black community in this effort for its mutual survival and uplift, we must make it.

Where the Black revolution requires the development of unique and unorthodox legal remedies to insure the effective implementation of the just demands of Black people for legal, economic and social security and protection, we must aid it.

If the Black revolution demands that Black attorneys organize for a mutual exchange of plans and programs for a major effort to achieve dignity and a fair share of power for Black people, we must do it.

And finally, if the Black revolution requires that we provide a unified Black voice of resistance designed to unmask the silent but no less criminal conduct of American institutions which condone the suppression of Black manhood, the lynching of Black leaders, and the frustration of Black efforts to save Black people, we must join it.

There is no existing institution of the legal profession as presently constituted available to address itself to the problem of white racism as it affects substantial justice for the Black Americans of this country.

Preamble to Constitution of the National Conference of Black Lawyers – 1968