Several members of Louisville Law community honored by LBA

Senator Gerald Neal (1972) honored with Trailblazer Award
Several members of Louisville Law community honored by LBA

Senator Gerald Neal
Senator Gerald Neal and students from Central High School.

On the same evening that Louisville Law hosted Professor Marc Steinberg for the Bullitt Lecture, the Louisville Bar Association honored one of our alumni with its prestigious Justice William E. McAnulty Jr. Trailblazer Award.

The award — named for the first African-American to serve on the Kentucky Supreme Court — was presented to Senator Gerald Neal. (Coincidentally, both Justice McAnulty and Senator Neal are graduates of Louisville Law!)

Senator Neal was honored for “his contributions to the promotion of racial diversity and justice within the legal community and beyond,” says the LBA.

Indeed, Senator Neal has an impressive record. He was elected to the Kentucky Senate in 1989, becoming the first African-American male to serve in that body. Returned to Frankfort at every subsequent election, he is now the longest serving African-American member of the Kentucky General Assembly.

A strong advocate for senior citizens, youth, minorities and the disadvantaged and a staunch supporter of education, economic development, health care and penal code reform, he sponsored legislation amending the Kentucky Constitution to remove segregation by race, prohibit racial profiling by law enforcement and prevent the execution of a person when evidence shows racial bias in prosecution. He was recently chosen as parliamentarian of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.

In 2017, the law school’s Law Alumni Council awarded Senator Neal its highest honor, the Lawrence Grauman Award.

The LBA’s event also recognized winners of the Central High School Law & Government essay contest. As many readers know, Louisville Law and Central High School have a longstanding partnership meant to promote diversity in the legal profession.

Second-year law student Kaylee Raymer, who is one of our Human Rights Advocacy Fellows, was presented with the LBA’s Legal Opportunity Scholarship.

And receiving special recognition was Barbara Thompson, someone who is known to generations of Louisville Law graduates. Barbara retired as director of student records in June of 2018 after 47 years of service. Many lawyers in Louisville and beyond owe her a debt of gratitude for her commitment and counsel over nearly half a century. I was sorry I could not be there – if only Deans had the capacity to be in two places at once!