More than 1,000 civic and community leaders came together to kick-off Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at Bone McAllester Norton’s annual MLK Day Breakfast.
This event – now in its 19th year – was started with the goal of bringing the community together each year to celebrate, reflect and remind us of the importance of Dr. King’s message and renew the city’s commitment to the social justice issues he fought so hard for.
“Dr. King’s message is in so many ways just as relevant today as it was 50+ years ago. As a law firm, but also as active members in this community, we believe fiercely that we have a responsibility to not just remember his legacy but push each other to keep thinking and talking about its relevance against the backdrop of present-day issues and challenges,” said Bone McAllester Norton PLLC co-founder, Stacey Garrett Koju.
This year’s event broke a 19-year record of attendance and brought a standing-room only crowd to hear longtime civil rights advocate and current Tennessee Court of Appeals Judge Richard Dinkins and Cyntoia Brown-Long. Brown-Long is an author, speaker and advocate for criminal justice reform and victims of sex trafficking. She was also a client of Bone McAllester Norton, who led the legal fight that resulted in her freedom being granted by former Governor Bill Haslam last year. She recently released a book, “Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System,” which earned her a NAACP Image Award nomination.
“In so many ways Cyntoia’s story is a present-day manifestation of Dr. King’s message. Listening to her story challenges us to think about, remember, and celebrate the messages he preached about forgiveness, love, justice, redemption, faith and service,” said Dinkins. “As the passage of time takes us further away from the days of Dr. King, it is so important that we make ourselves constantly reimagine the meaning of his words in today’s context. Talking to Cyntoia today did that in an incredibly moving way.”
“What a great opportunity today was to celebrate Dr. King’s life and legacy but also to talk about how we can each carry forth his message in our own lives today. I have been given an extraordinary second chance. I am deeply grateful to Bone McAllester, former Governor Bill Haslam, and the many others who stepped forward to help me tell my own story and get a second chance at life,” said Brown-Long. “I’m committed, now to standing on the backs of the giants like Martin Luther King, Jr. to ensure we carry his legacy forth – that we give voice to those who need it most and that we inspire others to listen more intently to what they have to say and act on it.”
“What makes a great law firm isn’t only top-flight lawyers, but also a steadfast commitment to the community in which we practice,” said co-founder and chairman Charles W. Bone. “From the day we opened the doors of Bone McAllester Norton, we’ve maintained a dual commitment to legal excellence and community as our compass. This event to honor Dr. King’s legacy is an important part of that, as was our work to free Cyntoia Brown-Long.”
Bone McAllester Norton PLLC is a Nashville law firm with nearly 45 attorneys with an extensive range of practices and experiences including expertise in litigation, banking and commercial lending, corporate and securities transactions, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property, entertainment and environmental matters. In addition to their legal expertise, the firm has also steadfastly committed itself to a range of community initiatives, including among other things, their 19-year support of the annual MLK Fellowship Breakfast.