| ärk | noun | a continuous progression or line of development
Every good mission begins with a great story
Efforts for this rule of law initiative began formally in 2016 but its origin hearkens back to a 2012 middle school field trip. As a sixth-grade student, Sydney Alizabeth Pope visited various Alabama civil rights museums and her father, Derrick Alexander Pope, was one of the parent volunteers. Each museum vividly captured the better-known aspects of the civil rights movement, such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Bloody Sunday, and the March on Washington. Still, there was something missing. The critical and indispensable contribution of lawyers and judges was nowhere to be found.
In 2015, Pope was appointed Co-Chair of the State Bar of Georgia Committee to Promote Inclusion in the Profession. Recalling the cultural and educational opportunity he observed three years earlier, Pope thought the Committee, given its unique mission, could be a suitable group to undertake the effort of bringing into existence an exhibit focused on the contributions of lawyers to the cause of civil rights. After evaluating the feasibility of the idea and meeting with select individuals, he presented the concept to the committee on January 15, 2016, which approved it unanimously. In addition, Pope presented the idea to the State Bar Executive Committee at its April meeting gaining their endorsement. The concept was announced as an initiative at the 2016 State Bar of Georgia Commitment to Equality Awards. The Committee named the initiative The Arc of Justice Project and The Arc of Justice Institute was established as a nonprofit organization in January 2018 to administer, govern, and manage the project and Pope was named President and Managing Director.
Then, came 2020.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the gruesome reminders that race prejudice maintains a strong foothold on the American psyche prompted both a shift in programmatic priority and a renewed sense of purpose. Our initial goal of developing a travelling exhibit has been impacted by public health concerns, but in its place a web-based, interactive "first-instance, next-generation learning opportunity" is being developed. In addition, educational efforts have been expanded with an intense focus on the Hidden Legal Figures podcast and the establishment of the The Arc of Justice Ideas Ex+Change as a form of meaningful civic engagement.
In short, there is still reason to Get on the Arc!
The Arc of Justice Institute is led by a dynamic group of professionals
Our founder describes himself as "a composer and conductor of ideas" and The Arc of Justice Project is a symphony worth the price of admission.
Derrick Alexander Pope is President and Managing Director and in this role, he has responsibility for its standing initiatives and programs, including hosting its podcast, Hidden Legal Figures.
Before The Arc, Mr. Pope enjoyed a distinguished career in the public, private, and academic sectors. He has provided counsel to the legislative and executive branches of government at the federal, state, and county level, having most recently served as Chief of Staff in the Office of the Chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners. He is a former Assistant Legislative Counsel to the Georgia General Assembly and former Legislative and General Counsel to the Medical Association of Georgia. During the Obama administration, Mr. Pope was a member of the White House Data Driven Justice Initiative and the My Brother's Keeper Taskforce in 2015 and 2016. In private practice, he has helped protect the inheritance rights of more than 500 families throughout Georgia. Mr. Pope is a former adjunct professor of law at the Georgia State University College of Law where he taught Probate Practice and Procedure.
Mr. Pope has several published works to his credit. He is the author of By the Content of Our Character: A Declaration of Independence for Colored Folks, Negroes, Black People, and African Americans and Thy Will Be Done: An African American Guide to Estate Planning and the Howard Law Journal article A Constitutional Window to Interpretive Reason: Or in Other Words...The Ninth Amendment. In 2012 teaming with this daughter he released a spoken word CD - The Race Track.
An Atlanta native, Mr. Pope is a graduate of Morris Brown College and the Loyola University School of Law in New Orleans, Louisiana, earning top honors in the Loyola Law Clinic. He is a member of the State Bar of Georgia where serves on three standing committees (Vice-Chair, Communications/Cornerstones of Freedom Program; Advisory Committee on Legislation, and the Editorial Board of the Georgia Bar Journal, and Past Co-Chair of the Committee on Inclusion in the Profession), the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, the United States Supreme Court Historical Society, and the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
We have only just begun to understand what it means to be a society committed to the rule of law. Now, more than ever, we owe it to ourselves to be even more deliberate in our adherence to its guiding principles.
Vernon Jordan, National Honorary Chair
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