Uzodima Franklin Aba-Onu had a busy summer. He helped organize a silent protest held in June by the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers (MABL) to protest the death of George Floyd during a police arrest.
The legal counsel for Prime Therapeuticsand a 2019 Minnesota Lawyer Up & Coming Attorneys honoree assumed the role of president in July after serving as MABL treasurer and vice president. That position adds to a long list of volunteer activities Aba-Onu participates in to advance the cause of diversity, inclusion and fighting systemic racism.
“It is essential to me that we break down the barriers for people of color and open opportunities to them in the legal profession,” Aba-Onu said. “We also have to address the inequities in the system.”
His work with the MABL represents just one aspect of the attorney’s activism. Supreme Court Justice Margaret Chutich and Judge Shari Schluchter appointed Aba-Onu in December 2019 to the 26-member Committee for Equality and to work across Minnesota’s judicial system to promote access to the courts and eliminate bias.
As one of 48 “community builders” selected by the African American Leadership Forum (AALF) to participate in “Collective Impact Workstreams,” he and the economic and development workstream team focused on creating a strategic plan to strengthen Black businesses.
One initiative, “Black Future Fund,” allows for a long-term development of an innovative, flourishing and prosperous Black middle class. One goal is to build Black wealth and “create ways for our community to support them,” he said. “The more business ownership, the more we can control our economic destiny.”
Aba-Onu serves in leadership positions with the Federal Bar Association’s Minnesota chapter, the St. Stephen’s Human Services Board and his own firm’s pro bono, diversity and inclusion and recruiting committees. “I enjoy doing this work because our community has to address these issues,” he said. “If not now, when? If not you, who?”
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