This years’ Black History Month was particularly special to Leonard Baynes, the director of the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development at St. John’s University.
Baynes, who is a nationally recognized communications law scholar specializing in race and media issues, has been selected as one of the 100 most influential black attorneys in the United States. The tribute comes from On Being a Black Lawyer, a media company that promotes the causes and contributions of African-American attorneys. For the occasion OBABL has published “The Power 100 Special Edition,” in which Baynes is featured, among other of the nation’s most influential black attorneys.
On Thursday Baynes attended a reception at the The Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington DC, where the CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller presented the award.
His sister was among the audience.
“It’s really an honour for me to receive this award,” Baynes said on the phone on his way to Washington. “This one is particularly nice because it places me among a hundred nation-wide incredible black lawyers who accomplish great things.”
This award follows an extensive list of acknowledgments that Baynes has previously received for his service to the law school community, and for his engagement on issues affecting people of colour in media and legal affairs — he has written more than 25 law review articles on the topic of Race/Racism and the Law.
Other academic work in the field includes his research on the disparity in tenure rates between professors of color and white professors, and his study of the under-representation of people of color in New York State law schools and the judiciary.
One of his latest honors was the Diversity Trailblazer Award, which the New York Bar Association presented him in 2010.
Still Baynes is very exited about the OBABL award.
“It is always nice to get recognition for your work,” he said.
According to the American Bar Association, less than 5 percent of U.S. attorneys are African American, and OBABL seeks to help advance diversity in the legal profession.
“Neither of my parents are college educated, but came as immigrants from a small island in the Grenadines,” Baynes said.
“To find myself receiving all these acknowledgment is really a testament to the American Dream and proves that it’s possible to work yourself up.”