What a year it has been!
As the year comes to a close, we celebrate Langston and reflect on where we have been, what we accomplished and where we are going. Despite the many challenges we faced this year, I am proud of everything we achieved.
We started out the year with an amazing sold-out gala in February where we awarded over $100,000 in scholarships, celebrated the achievements of several honorees and raised substantial funds. What we did not know then is that only a month later our lives would change completely with the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. And if that was not enough, our community and the country reeled from the senseless murder of George Floyd and other African Americans sparking worldwide protests to fight racial injustice.
In the midst of the emotionally draining and daunting world we lived in, in the tradition of Langston we rose to the occasion. Strategically, we had to ask ourselves how do we move forward and how do we continue our commitment to serve. We shifted our events and programs to virtual instead of in person, which resulted in us producing over 40 valuable and informative programs. We substantially increased our engagement with our members and the community at large through our newsletters and social media. We also stepped up to address racial injustice through our advocacy and efforts to educate the community about what we need to do to effectuate change.
Financially, Langston weathered the storm and ended the year fiscally strong. While our donations and sponsorships were down, we reduced our expenses to help us meet our budget. Our creative fundraising efforts have even allowed us to keep our yearly commitment to support law students through our scholarship program. I am excited to share that Langston expects to be able to award approximately $75,000 to law students at the Virtual Scholarship Benefit and Awards Presentation in February, which we will hold in lieu of our annual gala.
I want to especially thank our sponsors, including City National Bank, Morgan Stanley, American Business Bank, and Mitchell Silberberg and Knupp LLP, and many others, who helped make this happen. Thank you also to organizations including Black Women Lawyers, Italian American Lawyers Association, ACC-SoCal, LA County Bar Association, and Beverly Hills Bar Association, among others, who we partnered with to co-sponsor events. We have an outstanding Board, and I want to thank all of Langston’s board members who worked throughout the year to make sure we achieved our goals.
I am deeply humbled and honored to have been the President of Langston this past year. I believe in purpose and timing and appreciate that I was placed in this position at this time for a reason, which I fully embraced. I want to thank all of you who reached out to me with words of support, encouragement, and affirmation throughout the year. Your messages and acknowledgement of my efforts truly strengthened me.
It is my privilege to announce that the Langston Board voted, pursuant to our bylaws, to extend the term of the Executive Board for an additional year to maintain consistency and stability within the organization in these unprecedented times. I am grateful for all of the past presidents that came before me as I recognize that I am only here to serve Langston as they did and continue this great organization's legacy.
This year was unlike any other in the history of our organization or country and we appreciate you being with us every step of the way. On behalf of the Board, we thank you for supporting Langston. We wish you a safe and healthy holiday season and we look forward to serving you in the upcoming year and beyond.
Nyanza Shaw, Esq.
President, John M. Langston Bar Association