CLE: Unexampled Courage: Sergeant Isaac Woodard and the Unknown Road to Brown v. Board of Education

1.5 CLE credits: Diversity, Inclusion & Elimination of Bias (Credit category approved for experienced attorneys)
This program is co-sponsored by ABOTA Buffalo Chapter, Counsel Press, Erie Institute of Law, Paramount Settlement Planning, IMES National, Minority Bar Association of WNY and WBASNY WNY 
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In 1951, United States District Judge, J. Waites Waring, sitting on a 3-judge panel in the Charleston Division of the South Carolina District Court, issued a powerful dissent in Briggs v. Elliott, where, then NAACP lead counsel, Thurgood Marshall, directly challenged the constitutionality of the” separate but equal” doctrine enunciated in Plessy v. Ferguson.  In so do, Judge Waring ensured a direct appeal to the United States Supreme Court.  Although Briggs was the first such case to arrive in our highest tribunal the Court, for reasons known only to it, chose Brown v. Board of Ed. as the lead case.

In his book, Unexampled Courage, United States District Judge, Richard Gergel, traces the paths walked by both Judge Waring and Thurgood Marshall that led both to this direct Constitutional challenge.

Judge Gergel’s presentation will outline that state of race relations in the South beginning with the end of World War II, the blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard by a southern police officer,  and effect it had on President Harry S Truman and ultimately, how the trial of the officer who blinded Sgt. Woodard became a turning point in the outlook of Judge Waring, the descendant of a Confederate soldier, resulting in his transformation from a member of Charleston society to being the most reviled man in the white South, and an ally of the civil rights movement in the 1950; a fact not lost on Marshall as he brought matters before the Judge.

Following the presentation, members of the Federal Judiciary will join Judge Gergel in a panel discussion and receive questions from those in attendance.

Welcome and Introductions:
Michael F. Perley, Esq., ABOTA Buffalo Chapter, National Board Representative
Larry E. Waters, Esq., President, Minority Bar Association of WNY

Hon. Richard Gergel, Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina

Federal Judiciary Panel Discussion:
Hon. Elizabeth A. Wolford, Chief Judge, U.S. District Court, Western District of New York
Hon. Lawrence J. Vilardo, District Judge, U.S. District Court, Western District of New York
Hon. Jeremiah J. McCarthy, Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court, Western District of New York

Following the presentation, Judge Gergel will be available to autograph copies of his book which will be for sale at the conclusion of the event. 

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The event is finished.


Oct 17 2022


3:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Bar Association of Erie County
438 Main St, 6th Floor, Buffalo, NY 14202


Erie Institute of Law