At no time has this commitment been more evident than in our support of integration of public schools during the Central High Crisis in 1957. In defiance of the United States Supreme Court, Governor Orval Faubus attempted to keep the Little Rock School District segregated by denying nine African-American students, known as the Little Rock Nine, entrance to Central High School. The crisis made Little Rock a focal point of the civil rights movement.
Attorneys from Wright Lindsey Jennings (then called Wright, Harrison, Lindsey & Upton), including Ron May, took a stand against Governor Faubus by joining in “A Statement From Lawyers” published in Little Rock newspapers. In the Statement, sixty-three lawyers who felt “compelled to take our stand for public education” urged their fellow citizens in the Little Rock School District to “face frankly the hard alternatives and to join with us in an effort to preserve free public education in our city” by opposing Governor Faubus’ segregation measures.
In the years following the Central High Crisis, the firm established itself as a leader in the cause of diversity in the legal profession. Wright Lindsey Jennings was the first large law firm in Arkansas to elect an African-American partner, a woman partner, and a woman chair of its management committee. We pride ourselves in employing men and women of a variety of races, ethnicities, religions and political views and are committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment.
In recent years, our attorneys have represented clients in cases involving issues of freedom of off-campus speech and detention of mentally ill persons, as well as other issues before the state Supreme Court. Additionally, the firm and its members continue their dedication to diversity and equality, particularly in the legal community and in education, by donating time and financial resources to organizations that promote the advancement of women and minorities.
Wright Lindsey Jennings is committed to the continuation of defending civil liberties within our state through innovative efforts to increase diversity awareness and decrease the disconnect within the legal industry and our communities. As Wright Lindsey Jennings celebrates 119 years of excellence in service and professionalism, the firm remains guided by its steadfast values that have fostered great change in and produced an immense impact on our society.