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The History of the Black Lawyer in Philadelphia

February 8 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Raina Yancey, Esquire, is a lawyer in Philadelphia as well as the owner of The Black Journey: African-American History Walking Tour of Philadelphia. She kicks off the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides’ February monthly meeting on Wednesday February 8, at 7 pm, with a zoom talk on “The History of the Black Lawyer in Philadelphia.” (Please note that this meeting will be zoom only; it is free and open to anyone.)

The “Philadelphia Lawyer” has been used to describe erudite and skilled lawyers since the late 18th century. This comprehensive discussion of the history of Black Lawyers in Philadelphia will cover how they elegantly overcame obstacles, assisted others, and dedicated themselves to civil rights and equality for all. The presentation will feature an analysis of the achievements of the Black lawyers in Philadelphia, including appointments to the federal, state, and local benches; clerkships at the Supreme Court of the United States; appointments as EEOC Chairman and as deans of law schools.

African American attorneys played significant roles in important Philadelphia events such as the drafting of the City’s Home Rule Charter, the desegregation of Girard College, and the Philadelphia Transportation Company strike in 1944. Black Philadelphia attorneys were also involved in momentous national events such as the Brown v. Board of Education litigation and the drafting of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Highlights of the presentation include a brief history of a number of prominent African American attorneys, several of whom were former Assistant City Solicitors, including John C. Asbury (1916-1920), John Adams Sparks (1920-1944), Sadie T. M. Alexander (1928-1930, 1934-1938), and the Honorable Doris May Harris. Raina Yancey will also discuss the Liacouras Committee, which, in 1970, exposed systemic racial discrimination in the administration of the Pennsylvania Bar Examination.

She is a graduate of Temple University Beasley School of Law and Richmond University in London where she studied International Relations, History, and Economics. Prior to returning to her hometown of Philadelphia, Raina was an international lawyer working in Project Finance in the Beijing, China, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates offices of an international law firm. She currently practices Intellectual Property and Technology law. When she is not practicing law, Raina’s major passion is history.

Following the presentation will be a short business meeting and some social time on zoom.

APT meetings are open to aspiring and working tour guides as well as anyone with an interest in Philadelphia-focused history. Attend one meeting for free and then it is $50 to join the association for the year or $10 per monthly meeting in-person event. Zoom meetings are free. Please join us for convivial company, good food, fascinating presentations, and lively discussions.

The zoom link will be sent out in the President’s email the week of the meeting.


February 8
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm