Lawyers Reflect on Anniversary of Desegregation of Kansas City Bar Association

Feb 7, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – In order to practice law in Missouri, law school graduates must take a test demonstrating their competence, and are then admitted to the Missouri Bar. But that's just the first step in launching a law career. For many, joining a local bar association is a next step.

Local bar associations have historically been an important places to make key business contacts and develop relationships that are important to career advancement. But until 1955, African Americans and women, were not allowed to belong to the Kansas City Bar Association.

December marked the 55th anniversary of the desegregation of that organization, now called the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association. KCUR's Susan B. Wilson looked into the story of how it happened, and the diversity of the legal community today.

She spoke to UMKC law professor David Achtenberg, whose father Irving Achtenberg was part of the call to desegregate the organization, as well as Judge Howard Sachs, who also called for eliminating the racial barrier at the time.

Former circuit judge Jon Gray (pictured), now a partner at Shook, Hardy and Bacon, weighs in on the diversity of the legal community today.

This story was produced for KC Currents. To listen on your own schedule, subscribe to the KC Currents Podcast.