From Chattel to Justice


Tampa shareholder Sylvia H. Walbolt (Appellate Practice and Trial Support) and Tallahassee associate Andrew D. Manko (Appellate Practice and Trial Support) published an article, "From Chattel To Justice," as part of the Florida Supreme Court Historical Society's African-American Experience Project. The article was presented at the annual Florida Bar Convention in Boca Raton in June. The article follows the history of how the Florida Supreme Court has treated African-Americans throughout its history. When the Florida Supreme Court was first created, several of the justices were slave owners and its decisions reflected that African-Americans were treated as mere chattel to be bought, sold, and bequeathed. Throughout the last century, the Court's decisions have evolved on a multitude of issues, ranging from voting and civil rights to the struggle to allow an African-American entry into The Florida Bar. The end result is a Court that now has had several African-American justices deciding cases for all Floridians. The journey was a remarkable one and the evolution for how African-Americans have been treated by the Court remains an ongoing and important marker for civil rights in this state.

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