History & Mission
Following the civil rights movement in the 1960’s, the number of black attorneys continued to grow in San Antonio and around the country. Many of those attorneys were coming from law schools with chapters of the Black American Law Students Association. In total seventeen African-American attorneys would meet on common concerns and issues. These discussions evolved into specific actions and a mission statement to advocate for justice and to open the closed environment of the Bexar County Courthouse.
In the 1970’s a group of seventeen African-American attorneys were concerned about the lack of representation of African-American attorneys in the County and District courts. This group began communications with District Attorney James Barlow seeking the addition of an African-American Prosecutor within his office. These discussions eventually led to the hiring of Andrew Jefferson and later Earl Hill.
Another goal for the group was the appointment and election of judges from both the African-American and Mexican-American communities. The group realized that a formal organization needed to be developed. Attorney Peggy W. Jones led the organizational effort by mailing individual letters to the group of seventeen attorneys. Attorney Clarence McGowan was elected as Temporary Chair of this group of seventeen attorneys. In 1979, Attorney Clarence McGowan was elected as the first President of the San Antonio Black Lawyer’s Association.
The first project of SABLA was the Judicial Candidates Forum. This forum, which is continued to this day, was designed to introduce judicial candidates to the community. In opposition to South Africa’s system of racial apartheid, SABLA also was at the forefront of protesting the State Bar of Texas’ sponsorship of a South African Adventure Tour.
Recognizing the need for unity, organization, leadership, adequate representation, and the provision of sound legal information to and for the Black community of San Antonio, Texas, and recognizing further the fact that by education, training, and professional and social commitment, lawyers are uniquely prepared to perform such functions, we the members of the San Antonio Black Lawyers Association hereby dedicate ourselves, both individually and collectively, to provide a mechanism whereby the community’s problems may be addressed and resolved, needs may be identified and satisfied, wants may be articulated and fulfilled and goals may be formulated and achieved.
This early mission statement is as relevant today, as it was at our origin. We give a heartfelt thanks to the founding members of our association. We recognize their sacrifice and struggle to lighten our burden. We hope to continue the path that they begin, make them proud, and realize that their sacrifice is acknowledged. Towards this end, SABLA looks forward to future conversations and plans to address the needs of the African-American members of the bar, and the San Antonio community.
President | Danica R. McKinney
President Elect | Whitney Thomas
Vice President | Joseph Saahene
Treasurer | Aisha Denis
Secretary | Cherrell Holmes
Immediate Past President | Artessia “Tess” House
At-Large Board Members: Courtney Abanaka, Bridgett Clay, Daryl Harris, Judge Yolanda Huff, Susan Watts, Doris White