The Memphis Bar Association (MBA), National Bar Association (NBA) and Association of Women Attorneys (AWA) recently hosted a webinar on the CROWN Act. Lani Lester, Associate Attorney at Burch, Porter & Johnson moderated the discussion, which included Keynote Speaker State Senator Raumesh Akbari.

The CROWN Act (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) is a 2019 California law which prohibits discrimination based on hair style and hair texture by extending protection for both categories under the FEHA and the California Education Code. It is the first legislation passed at the state level in the United States to prohibit such discrimination. Senator Akbari introduced the CROWN Act of 2020, which would amend the Tennessee Human Rights Act to prevent hairstyle discrimination based on race.

“Hair discrimination is an important topic,” Ms. Lester explains, “and one of personal interest to me. It was a privilege to engage with so many knowledgeable professionals who have both studied and lived the topic. I am grateful to BPJ for sponsoring the event, and to the MBA and NBA for inviting me to moderate the discussion. “

BPJ Member Attorney Tannera Gibson is currently the Vice President of the MBA Board of Directors and contributed to activities surrounding the CLE.

“On the eve of the CROWN Act CLE, I had the opportunity to read a letter penned by Lucius Burch in 1963 advocating for the inclusion of African American lawyers in the Memphis Bar Association.  The next day, from my vantage point as the Memphis Bar Association’s first African American female VP, I watched a panel of African American professionals discuss the topic of Black hair discrimination during an event hosted by the same Memphis Bar Association that once barred our participation.  In keeping with the spirit of diversity and inclusion championed by Lucius Burch nearly 60 years ago, Burch Porter & Johnson sponsored the event.  It was a full-circle moment.  I look forward to many more.”

Find out more about the CROWN Act CLE panelists here:

MBA CROWN Act Panelists