Arent Fox Launches The Center for Racial Equality

Arent Fox is announcing the launch of The Center for Racial Equality, an organization dedicated to advancing racial justice by using legal, policy, and advocacy tools to help create a more fair and equitable society.

More about the Center can be found here.

"As a law firm, we have a central role to play in the process of reconciliation. As lawyers, we have a special responsibility to promote values of justice, fairness, and equality in the law and in practice. Arent Fox has the resources, talent, and prominence to effect change and bring about meaningful reform.”

Mark M. Katz, Chair

The Center was created following the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and the weaponization of race against Chris Cooper. These recent examples of police and community violence against people of color, most especially Black and African Americans, now include Jacob Blake and reinforce the need for long-term support and attention on these critical issues. The Center’s mission will focus on taking concrete steps toward addressing systemic inequalities.

Prior to the launch, the Center spearheaded initiatives that aim to help in the advancement of racial justice. This includes:

  • Partnering: Working with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to help address potential Voting Rights and policing issues.
  • Fundraising: Leading an internal Arent Fox fundraiser that resulted in a combined $150,000 in donations for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

“Arent Fox was founded in part because of lawyers who experienced a system of prejudice and exclusion, and we have worked to create a welcoming and nurturing environment for lawyers and staff from all backgrounds. With the legacy of the Firm’s founder Al Arent clearly in mind, we acknowledge the urgent need to take action and do more.”

Cristina A. Carvalho, Firmwide Managing Partner

The Center’s essential goals focus on initiating change:

  • At Work: Supporting and coordinating initiatives to promote equality for Black people and other people of color at Arent Fox and in the legal community.
  • In the Law: Initiating and supporting pro bono activities to promote racial justice in all of our communities.
  • Through Education: Sponsoring workshops and educational sessions to advance the mission.
  • In Policy: Advocating for legislative reform.
  • In the Community: Strengthening partnerships with existing organizations that are dedicated to racial justice, ending discrimination, and social reform for members of the Black community and communities of color.

As part of its founding Mission Statement, the Center notes:

We cannot ignore that America’s foundation is rooted in slavery, an institution that persisted for more than 200 years. That legacy did not end in 1865 with abolition. We note our country’s troubled past and present with lynchings, Jim Crow laws, mass incarceration, voter suppression, economic redlining, zoning laws, and lending and hiring practices that created concentrations of poverty, unequal education, inadequate health care, and disproportionate rates of unemployment in the Black community. Justice in this country has not been blind or equal. While we acknowledge some progress, we recognize that the legacy of slavery persists to this day in both overt acts of discrimination and in more subtle and pernicious attitudes, behaviors, and laws.

Founding members of the Center include Chair Mark M. Katz, Firmwide Managing Partner Cristina A. Carvalho, Partners David L. Dubrow, Darrell S. Gay, Lewis Goss II, M. Scott Peeler, and Eva J. Pulliam, Associate Douglas E. Hewlett, Jr., Diversity & Inclusion Director Alison Bygrave, and Senior Accounts Payable Manager Kimberly Chapman.

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