President’s Address

I am excited and honored to lead the Jackson County Bar Association (“JCBA”) as its 2024 President. I want to thank the membership of the JCBA for trusting me to lead one of the oldest Black bar associations in Missouri.

I have been a member of the JCBA for many, many years since graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. I am truly gratified by the growth in JCBA’s membership and financial support from this community.

While progress has been made in protecting the civil and legal rights of our people, abuses in policing, including excessive force and unjustified killings of Black and brown men and women by police, persist. Additionally, the hard-won franchise and voting rights of our people are under attack. In light of these concerns, I feel called to ensure we do not lose ground in the fight for equity and equal justice for all. If not us–who? If not now–when?

The work of the JCBA would not be possible without the support of its membership, the community, and its past presidents – Cecilia Brown, immediate past president; Lesley D. Smith; Ebonie Davis; and Shaun M. Stallworth. The work of the JCBA in 2024 would not be possible without the support of my Executive Committee members – Sophia Bond, VicePresident; Wale Akinmoladun, Treasurer; Doug McMillan, Corresponding Secretary; Crystal Ellison, Recording Secretary; Anika Hickman, Parliamentarian; and University of Missouri-Kansas City law student, Taylor Flemons, Black Law Student Association Liaison.

I want to call out JCBA’s long standing partnership with the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association (“KCMBA”), without which much of the work of the JCBA would not be as fruitful. I especially look forward to working closely with the KCMBA’s current president–who is also a JCBA member–Keith Cutler.

My Executive Committee and I recognize that we are walking through doors opened by Black attorneys who came before us in the greater Kansas City Metropolitan area like Maurice Watson, Judge Lisa Hardwick, Mark Bryant, James W. Tippin and the late Taylor Fields, to name a few. We acknowledge and commit to upholding the mission of the Jackson County Bar Association:

To advance the science of jurisprudence; improve the administration of justice; preserve the independence of the judiciary of our cities, county and state; promote legislation that will improve the economic conditions of all citizens of the County of Jackson, State of
Missouri; aid all citizens regardless of race, creed, color, sex or national origin in their efforts to secure for themselves a free and untrammeled use of the franchise guaranteed by the Constitution of the State of Missouri; promote social intercourse among the members of The Missouri Bar; uphold the honor of the legal profession; and protect the
civil and political rights of the citizens and residents of the State of Missouri.

The JCBA was established nearly 100 years ago when African American lawyers were excluded from all the other local bar associations. We have a glorious history marked by inclusiveness for all. JCBA membership has always been open to any lawyer in good standing with the Missouri Bar or the Bar of another state and any student enrolled in an ABA-accredited law school.

It is my hope that during this election year, the JCBA will lead in educating our community on voting rights and helping register eligible voters. I look forward to working with local nonprofits to assist with boots on the ground voter registration and voter education.

The JCBA will continue monitoring the City of Kansas City’s Reparations Committee and any legislation related to the findings of the Committee. In addition, the JCBA Legislative Committee will monitor local legislation related to the City of Kansas City’s W/MBE program. The JCBA will continue to rely on our local, state, and federal elected officials to keep us informed of important legislation affecting the community. My hope is that our elected officials will lean on the JCBA for legal analysis and support pending legislation.

The JCBA will continue to be an educational resource for attorneys with its annual Continuing Legal Education session in February and its Law 101 courses. The JCBA will continue to honor community leaders who support the JCBA’s mission and assist law students with scholarships. The JCBA will continue to engage with youth interested in the legal profession.

Increasing the membership of the JCBA is also important. The Executive Committee will seek input from its membership regarding their expectations from the JCBA. We will visit law schools, law firms, and corporations to share with them the value of being a member of the JCBA.

In short, there is a lot of work to do! Thank you for the extraordinary opportunity to take the good work of the JCBA and make it the trusted community resource for education and support regarding legal issues.

I hope to see you at a JCBA event!

Carla Barksdale
JCBA 2024 President