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Fifty years ago, the Bar Association of the District of Columbia did not allow black members. Last week, the organization apologized. In a resolution presented during the group’s annual luncheon, the association recognized about 30 members who led the effort to integrate the voluntary bar association and issued a formal apology “to the victims of discrimination who were prevented, prior to integration, from joining the Bar Association and from using the Association’s law library.” The bar began allowing black members in 1958. Keith Watters, the incoming president of the association who was sworn in at the meeting, says there was a broad consensus among the board members that issuing the apology was the appropriate thing to do, and he says it was especially poignant for him as a black man. “I was personally very touched by the fact that people were so willing to do it and so glad to do it,” he says. Also in the audience were three former members who led the group’s integration effort and three lawyers who were victims of the discrimination.
Bethany Broida can be contacted at [email protected].

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