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77 Society Legacy Tiers to Honor Black Civil Rights Champions

The DC Bar Foundation recently created legacy tiers within its 77 Society to recognize donors who have reached significant lifetime giving thresholds of $25,000, $50,000, and $100,000. Previously, our 77 Society recognition has only been for annual giving amounts.

In 2017, the DC Bar Foundation created the 77 Society to recognize individuals who contribute $1,000 or more annually. In 2020, the Foundation added tiers to highlight individuals giving annually at the $2,500, $5,000, and $10,000 levels. Currently, 72 members of the 77 Society account for 90 percent of the individual donations the Foundation receives each year.

The Foundation is naming the legacy tiers after historic African-American civil rights champions in the District whose work may not be widely known.

Charles T. Duncan Legacy Donor (lifetime gifts totaling $25,000 - $49,999)

Civil rights attorney Charles T. Duncan (1924-2004) became the first African-American president of the DC Bar in 1973. He served on the DC Bar Foundation Board of Directors from 1978 to 1985 and was President of the Board in 1979, 1982, and 1985. He worked on the second brief presented to the US Supreme Court in the case of Brown v. Board of Education and, as a nod to the Court’s decision, named his sailboat “Deliberate Speed.” Duncan was the first general counsel of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and served as Dean of Howard University School of Law from 1974 to 1977. He believed in fostering change from within the system.

Charlotte E. Ray Legacy Donor (lifetime gifts totaling $50,000 - $99,999)

Charlotte E. Ray (1850-1911) was the first African-American woman lawyer in the United States, the first Black woman admitted to the District of Columbia Bar, and the first woman admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia (now the US District Court for the District of Columbia). She was also the first woman to graduate from Howard University School of Law. Upon graduating, Ray opened a law office specializing in commercial law. She advertised her practice in a newspaper run by Frederick Douglass. Ms. Ray could not sustain her practice beyond a few years due to gender and racial discrimination. She eventually taught school in New York City.

Charles Hamilton Houston Legacy Donor (lifetime gifts totaling $100,000 or more)

Charles Hamilton Houston (1895-1950) was a pioneering African-American civil rights lawyer, Dean of Howard University Law School, and the NAACP’s first Litigation Director. Houston was the first African-American to serve on the Harvard Law Review editorial board. Many recognize Houston as the architect of ending the “separate but equal” doctrine accepted by the US Supreme Court in 1896 in Plessy v. Ferguson. Houston played a significant role in dismantling Jim Crow laws by challenging segregation in schools and racial housing covenants. He mentored a generation of young Black attorneys, including Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court Justice.

Please contact Daryl Byler, Director of Development and Communications, if you want more information about becoming a Legacy Donor.

Thanks to our donors who have already reached the following legacy tiers:

​Charlotte E. Ray Legacy Donors ($50,000 -$99,999)

Nathalie F.P. Gilfoyle

David W. Ogden

Charles T. Duncan Legacy Donor ($25,000 -$49,999)

Marc L. Fleischaker

Jamie Gorelick

John M. Nannes

Stephen J. and Ruth Pollak

Michael Rogan

Paul M. Smith

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