I am honored to stand before you as the 50th President of the Gate City Bar Association, and proud to be a part of what I consider another golden moment in our history- the 2014 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony!
When I was installed as President in January, I, along with the members of the Executive Board, embarked upon a journey to recommit our membership to service, to reconnect to our community, and to revitalize our membership. We developed as our theme: "A Year of Restoration: Our Core, Our Mission, and Our Community." Tonight's honorees are not only dynamic lawyers and judges, but they genuinely represent Our Core, Our mission, Our Community.
As a board, we vowed to restore Gate City to its CORE, which is, and always has been, service! Is there anyone more committed to service than Marty Ellin, Director of the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, Inc., and one of tonight's honorees? As a board, we also endeavored to restore Gate City to its MISSION. Indeed our founders would say "well done" to Fulton County State Court Judge Myra Dixon. Finally, our board worked tirelessly this year to reconnect to our COMMUNITY. Anita Wallace Thomas of Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough is deeply entrenched in her community. At this time, I would like to thank and congratulate our Executive Board for living up to the promise and for working to ensure the mission of Gate City is fulfilled.
When I began my term as President, I said that this would be year of golden moments. One of those moments was bearing witness to the first person of color being sworn in as President of the State Bar of Georgia, Patrise Perkins-Hooker.
This is a historic period in our country as this year marks the 50th anniversaries of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As we celebrate these anniversaries, let us recall the past, acknowledge the progress that has been made, but look forward with the realization that there remains much work to be done! When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law these civil rights acts, he said, "this act is a challenge to all of us to go to work in our communities, in our states, in our homes, and in our hearts to eliminate the vestiges of injustice in our beloved country." Fellow brothers and sisters in the law, are we living up to this challenge? Are we working to eliminate injustice that still permeates our world? Are we working to promote equality that remains unrealized by so many?
For generations, judges and lawyers have been at the forefront of the fight for equal justice. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our judges on all levels of the court for working daily to uphold the principles of the constitution and to ensure that justice is more than an ideal. Thank you Judges for all that you do! I would also like to extend a special thank you to this year's Chair of the Judicial Section of the Gate City Bar Association, the Honorable Kimberly M. Esmond Adams, for her leadership, and to the entire judicial section for their support of us in unprecedented numbers. Judges, your support was noted and very much appreciated.
In keeping with President Johnson's challenge, we must all continue to work to close the gap between the theory of equality and the practice of equality. Gate City is committed to closing this gap, and in the spirit of collaboration, I want to thank our fellow bar associations in advance, for joining us in bridging this gap. If there are any bar association presidents here with us, please stand to be recognized.
None of our efforts to further the mission of Gate City would be possible without the support of our generous sponsors. Because of your time, money, and resources, we are able to offer numerous impactful programs that support our law students, attorneys, and the citizens of Atlanta. Many, many thanks to the firms that support us year after year.
I would also like to thank the partners and members of my firm, Thomas Kennedy Sampson and Tompkins LLP, for their longstanding support of Gate City and of me during this year as President. Thank you to the hundreds of attorneys who have supported our mission by volunteering their most precious resource -- time.
Last, and certainly not least, I would like to thank the Chair of tonight's gala, Mr. Clyde Mize, Jr., and our Executive Director, Shyril Beck, for planning this fabulous celebration. Clyde and Shyril, Gate City is better because of your vision, dedication, and hard work. Finally, this has been a golden year, premised upon a simple belief that there is no greater leadership than through service. Let us go and be in service to others. Congratulations to tonight's honorees and scholarship recipients!
Serving Gate City,
Meka B. Ward
President, Gate City Bar Association
"A Year of Restoration: Our Core, Our Mission, Our Community”
Gate City Bar Association | P.O. Box 16727, Atlanta, GA 30321 | Phone: 404-419-6627