National leader of African-American attorneys maintains KU
When Malcolm Robinson, l'75, attended KU's School of Law,
he several times had the chance to talk with Elmer Jackson
Jr., c'33, l'35, a prominent Kansas City, Kan., attorney who
from 1959 through 1960 served as president of the National
Bar Association, an international organization of African-American
lawyers, judges, legal scholars and law students.
Brian Robinson, second-year law student
from Dallas, talked with his dad, Malcolm Robinson,
at a recent KU forum sponsored by the National Bar Association.
Malcolm Robinson is the second KU alumnus to lead the
group as president. Courtesy of Lawrence Journal
World; photo by Terry Rombeck
"He was a true gentleman," recalls Robinson, who
last summer was sworn in as the NBA's 60th president. Robinson
returned to KU Oct. 25 for the opening session of the NBA's
annual Wiley A. Branton Symposium, which examined the impact
nearly 50 years later of the 1954 U.S Supreme Court decision
in Brown v. Board of Education. At the forum, Robinson presented
to Jackson's son, Elmer III, c'62, a Wiley Branton Award in
memory of his father's leadership among African-American attorneys.
Robinson, co-founder and partner in the Dallas law firm of
Robinson & Hoskins, returns to KU more regularly now that
his son, Brian, is a second-year KU law student. As an alumnus,
father and professional leader, he feels an obligation to
check in on his alma mater. While he boasts "there's
no better law school," Robinson monitors the school's
progress in increasing diversity and plans to attend the annual
diversity symposium in March 2003.
The NBA is the nation's oldest organization of color and
now includes more than 20,000 members. "Our main goal
is to push to make sure there's real diversity within the
legal profession, which I don't think exists today,"
he says. True parity will exist, he adds, "when you can
look at the top 200 law firms in the nation, and see the percentage
of African-American owned and operated firms relates to the
overall percentage of African-Americans in the general population."
To work toward its goal, Robinson says, the NBA will file
a brief in support of the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the Sixth Circuit upholding the use of race-conscious
admissions policies at the University of Michigan's Law School
and chief undergraduate college. The U.S. Supreme Court announced
Dec. 2 that it would consider an appeal of the Sixth Circuit's
And, on a more personal level, Robinson will continue to
encourage alumni to create opportunities for young people
to participate in the profession. "When he was younger,
Brian would go to the NBA conventions with me, and many other
members always bring their families," Robinson says.
"He had a lot of opportunity to be exposed, and I guess
that may have had something to do with convincing him to study