Darius J. Young


The civil rights movement of the mid-twentieth century highlighted the key role played by African American attorneys in events of critical importance, but the actions and impact of black lawyers during and immediately following the Reconstruction era have received considerably less attention. As recently as 2000, the Florida Bar Journal asserted that "African-Americans ha[ve] been lawyers since the late 1890s, when the multi-talented James Weldon Johnson passed an open exam conducted by three lawyers in a crowded Jacksonville courtroom." As it happens, the Bar Journal erred by a generation in its assertion; black attorneys had practiced law since 1869 when Henry S. Harmon raised his hand to accept admission to the bar at Gainesville.1