When U.S. District Senior Judge Clarence Cooper was a newly-minted attorney, quietly making history as the first black lawyer at the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, he had an extraordinary chance encounter.

Cooper was walking in Downtown Atlanta on his way to try his very first case. “I was wearing my best three-piece suit. I was sharp,” he recalls. As the traffic light turned, Cooper says he “felt a person’s eyes on me.” It was the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., uncharacteristically driving alone. “Young man, who are you?” King called cheerily out the window. “What do you do?”

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