It’s a powerful word.
Viola Davis had a historic win at the Emmys this week, being the first African American actress to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama for the show “How to Get Away with Murder.  The show is written by Shonda Rhimes, an African American writer.  It is always uplifting to see a talented woman being acknowledged — breaking through gender, color and stereotype barriers, and attaining what she has rightfully earned.
In her speech, she discussed the importance of opportunity.
Without opportunity, one never gets the chance to succeed.
People often ask why do I write, why do I get so involved in causes, what drives me.


I was a beneficiary of those who sacrificed before me. Those women who paid a high price, so that I can have the opportunities I have today.

It’s great. There is no reason that I can’t relax, while enjoying the fruits of their labor.

But the ultimate thank you to those women who came before me, those trailblazers, is to create opportunities for the next generation.

At the last National Black Prosecutors Association conference, a young prosecutor came up to me and told me “I interviewed with you several years ago. Although I did not accept an offer with your office, opting to stay closer to home, you showed me being a prosecutor was possible”.

This is why I do what I do. We must show and empower.

The Miami Herald ran a story on Gwen S. Cherry, who, because of her strength, determination and sacrifice, gave African American women lawyers like me the opportunity to succeed. I have previously acknowledged her on my blog (see the story here), but read this powerful Herald piece here. I am proud to continue to serve as the Vice President of the organization that bears her name, the Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association.
gwen cherry
When you get an opportunity, seize it with both hands, then drive a truck through it. That way you leave the path clear for others to follow. Not only must you take, but you must always be mindful of who is following you.

Fixing What Ails a Community…

Why don’t you teach your boys not to wear hoodies or pull up their pants?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that statement. 
Folks, we’ve got bigger fish to fry than choices in fashion. I’ve addressed this in previous blog posts — wearing the right clothes does not always keep you safe. 
And great. My pants are up. Now where are the jobs? Is wearing one’s pants at an appropriate height a guarantee that there will be no racism? (I can point to many a professional African American man that I know who were insulted in some form while wearing a suit and tie).
Besides, if a White child decided to be goth or wear biker clothing, are they stopped at the same rate? Is anyone telling White parents to tell their children to stop expressing their choice of fashion (other than the fact as parents, you generally dislike what your kids wear?)
Here is a great take from my friend James Swain, a former federal prosecutor in Florida. While we can universally reject the criminal element and lifestyle, that rejection does not apply to our youths’ choices in self expression.

Knowledge Trumps Racism (a multi-part series)


I’ve stayed pretty quiet in recent weeks, absorbing all that has been going on. One thing is incredibly clear; education is needed on both sides. If we don’t know the rules that govern us, as well as our past, we are doomed for the future.  If we don’t understand each other, we are doomed period.

So here is Part 1 of my series entitled “Knowledge Trumps Racism” — because as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said, knowledge is power.

I start from a historical perspective —  David Ovalle from the Miami Herald wrote a very thoughtful piece on the last time a police officer was indicted in Miami for a shooting death in the line of duty.  It was 25 years ago last Sunday, and left a long legacy.

In a city long torn by racial tension, a uniformed police officer fatally shot a black man. Days of upheaval and rioting riveted the nation.

A series of investigations scrutinized the officer’s use of deadly force. He claimed self-defense. Would the cop face criminal charges?

The case that exploded in Miami in 1989 still resonates today, echoing the murky, racially charged confrontation that has put a 24/7 media spotlight on the small Missouri town of Ferguson.

Twenty five years ago Sunday, after a trial that lives on in local legal lore, jurors convicted Miami Police Officer William Lozano for shooting and killing a motorcyclist. It was the last time any police officer in Florida was convicted for an on-duty shooting.

Read more here.