When Solomon Watson IV joined Boston’s Bingham Dana & Gould in 1971, he was the firm’s first African-American lawyer. “It was not much of an issue,” Watson says. “My style is to get along with everyone.”

Yet when Watson describes those times, a sense of discomfort trickles through his carefully worded recollections. Not with the firm, necessarily, but with Boston. He remembers going out to a local bar after work with a group of white associates. Watson says he quickly “got the sense that the proprietors weren’t happy to see me.” He conveyed his misgivings to one of the white associates, who responded sympathetically, “Folks in this section of town don’t like black folks.” Watson says that, rather than make a fuss, he simply stopped going to that bar with his colleagues: “To me it was easier. I could stay in the office and crank out more billable hours.” Easier, maybe, but not much fun. In 1974 Watson moved back to his home state of New Jersey. He joined The New York Times Company in New York and eventually rose to become general counsel of the newspaper publisher from 1989 through 2005.

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