It was a symbolic gesture, but still a meaningful one.
In tandem with the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, a Jerry Blackwell and Corey L. Gordon led a group of attorneys from Blackwell Burke collaborated with the Minnesota Historical Society, members of the Federal Bar, and other supporters, to successfully secure a posthumous pardon for Max Mason.
Mason was wrongfully convicted of raping a white woman 100 years ago. The posthumous pardon was the first ever in Minnesota history, in commemoration of the 100-year anniversary of Mason’s conviction and the brutal lynching of three Black circus workers in Duluth.
The work was all done pro bono. Gordon led the firm’s participation in the Duluth commemoration project and co-authored the pardon application with Blackwell, Ben W. Hulse, Charmaine Harris, Ted Hartman, Gene Hummel and Tony Atwal. Spiwe L. Jefferson, past president of the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers drafted that organization’s letter of support and collaborated with MABL’s leadership in its submission.
“Diversity is who we are,” said Gordon. “We don’t limit it to racial and gender diversity.”
In addition to the pardon effort, Blackwell lawyer Jefferson helped organize the MABL silent protest in the wake of the George Floyd killing. More than 200 lawyers turned out in dark suits and masks to stand in silent protest at the Hennepin County Government Center to protest the unjust and unequal treatment of Black citizens at the hands of police. The demonstration was scheduled to coincide with a court appearance by Derek Chauvin, a former police officer charged in Floyd’s death.
“Diversity is not just about checking a box for us,” said Gordon. “It’s about acting. Law firms should strive to have mission statements and policies about these things, but they need to exemplify those policies in how they hire.”
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