On Wednesday, June 7th participants in the University of Baltimore School of Law (UBL)’s Charles Hamilton Houston Scholars Program heard remarks from former Tuskegee Airman Dr. Robert M. Higginbotham, Sr., father of F. Michael Higginbotham UBL’s
Dean Joseph Curtis Professor of Law.
The 91-year-old Tuskegee Airmen veteran shared his experience from his childhood near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to serving as one of the famed World War II Tuskegee Airmen who helped America win victory. His inspiring words were part of the empowerment curriculum provided to approximately a dozen prospective law students selected from undergraduate colleges in Maryland and across the country.
He discussed his journey to overcome racial discrimination that ultimately led to his becoming an orthopedic surgeon in Beverly Hills, California. He was among the group of Black veteran awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in a 2007 White House ceremony by then President George W. Bush. Giving a formal military salute during that ceremony, the president told the honorees, “I would like to offer a gesture to atone for all the unreturned salutes and unforgivable indignities…” Dr. Higginbotham encouraged the students to “work hard, be excellent in everything, deal honestly with people and you will earn their respect.”
The Charles Hamilton Houston scholars program is a pipeline initiative of the University of Baltimore Law School to reach out to minority students who are interested in the practice of law. According to the Program’s Director, law Professor Cassandra Jones Havard, the program is named in honor of Baltimorean Thurgood Marshall’s great mentor and Harvard trained Black lawyer who did much of his groundbreaking civil rights courtroom work here in Baltimore. In its sixth year, the program has had students from colleges and universities as far away as Illinois, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas as well as college students from local schools who participate in the intensive academic enrichment classes that help them learn about the legal profession. The students visited local courts and law firms to hear from members of the legal profession and received training in legal analysis, case briefing techniques, professional skills and other activities that lead them to a smoother transition into law school. Federal Judge George L. Russell, III, state Judge Wanda Keyes Heard as well as lawyers from national law firms McGuire, Woods and Saul, Ewing hosted the scholars at their Baltimore offices and offered then insight and encouragement on their journey toward a legal career.
*Danielle Anderson is a Senior at UMBC and served as a teaching and media assistant for the Charles Hamilton Houston Scholars Program.