Toccoa, Georgia- On July 12, 2013 at approximately 1:23pm Eastern Standard Time, Chadrick Mance was sworn in as the second African American since reconstruction to become a lawyer in Stephens County, GA. Mance, a resident of Toccoa, Georgia and graduate of Morehouse College and the University of Georgia: School of Law is a man who was destined for this day. This is a man whose story resonates to the tune of “If at first you do not succeed, dust yourself off and try again.”
“I felt like my life was on hold. I believed for a short while that all my work was in vain. I somehow felt I’d been cheated,” said Mance.
Just as with any other failure in life, there was a lesson to be learned for Mance. He admits losing support after he failed the bar on his first attempt; describing his friends as having “tapped out.”
Not to be outdone, Mance began working to pass the bar exam on his second try. This time he took a more focused approached to learning; prioritizing his study regiment. He recalls his second go around as being a more quality over quantity approach. Then, before he knew it, the February 2013 exam was upon him. Then there were the months of wait and see between testing and results. On May 24, 2013 the good news came, as Mance excitedly read his name among the many who’d passed the Georgia State Bar Exam.
Growing up in the rural South Chad Mance realizes what he has and will accomplish is bigger than him. On the day he was sworn in, the Stephens County court room was almost standing room only. Local media outlets were present to document the historical day along with community members who are just proud to witness a black man bestowed with such a responsibility.
Toccoa, Georgia is a town of roughly 10,000. It’s African American population makes up about 21%, official name of the middle school mascot is the Rebels. Considering the fact Toccoa is situated in Stephens County named after Alexander Hamilton-Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederacy, one can understand why Mance’s ascension illustrates what one can do. Even in a nation where diligent discussion about race relations is taboo yet a historical frontline issue.
The swearing in of Mance, whose father is a retired Federal Reserve Bank Auditor and mother an Operations Manager with the local Social Security Administration, brought an entire community together. On this particular occasion, the town was praising one of its sons not for his athletic prowess, but for his intellectual impetus. For about 45 minutes, members of the Stephens County community took turns speaking about what the day meant to them personally and for the entire area. It was a day that shined a line of reason on what America was meant to be.
The legal world is one of the many powerful subsidiaries of democracy where blacks make up only a small percentage of professionals. According to recent figures, only 3% of attorneys in America are African American. This is a statistics Mance is well aware of and used as a motivating factor in overcoming the adversity and defeat he has faced.
“We need more people in our legal system that understand our plight, so that they can effectively improve it,” proclaimed Mance, a former high school senior class president in Toccoa.
The Molding of a Civil Rights Leader
Chad Mance was chosen in his small community at an early age to be a representative for what is right among African American males. He served annually as the Black History Month speaker at his middle and high schools. Mance, a former saxophone player, served as the drum major in his high school band. Then when he arrived in Atlanta at Morehouse College, he beat out a highly favored opponent to earn the prestigious position of Student Government Association president.
“Being the SGA President at Morehouse taught me about power. It taught me so much about the nature of people. I had young ladies I’d never met before asking to carry my books to class and be my personal secretary,” he explains.
“Overall, what I take from that experience is that if you have an agenda, you can not be afraid to push it forward,” Mance stated.
“I had the Capitol Hill internship, I took Pre-Law Undergraduate Scholars courses, I took every practice LSAT exam created between 1993 and 2009,” Mance admits.
“I ultimately ended up in the place I was supposed to be,” he maintains.
Now Mance boldly asserts, “From a legal standpoint, if you want to be a player in the state of Georgia, you need to go through UGA Law.”
When asked about mentors, Chad immediately begins to rattle off names of strong black male role models in his family. From his father whom he says showed him at an early age what a man should look like in a suit. Then to his grandfather, whom he refers to as a man of immense integrity, to an uncle described as a “rogue intellectual” who taught him to look at the world the way it could be. Mance attests he had no shortage of examples of strong men in his life from an early age.
As he grew older, and began forming his own identity, Chad took up hobbies such as painting and poetry. He just like so many African American males also began to study the lives of martyrs, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.
Morehouse students are taught that they stand on the shoulders of those who came before them. Thus, Mance when questioned about other great minds he studies and people that have influenced his perspective of life; he once more began to rattle off name after name after name of those whose writings and life he has studied or continues to study.
Mance gives flowers to many more whom he describes as mentors in his life who have personally molded him leading up to his historical swearing in as an attorney.
In the future, this freshly minted African American lawyer plans to partner with a college classmate to start a firm in Georgia. A firm he proclaims will become one of the “pre-eminent trial firms in that state.” His partner in this venture happens to be a white American with longstanding connections in the legal realm. Mance believes this partnership represents a new generation of lawyers in America — one forming coalitions across racial lines.
He adds, “We want to redefine the status quo, using technology, political and legal prowess, and business savvy to advance the practice of law.”
As far as social responsibility is concerned, Mance is also spear-heading a legal movement for the under 30 young professionals and students. As for what he did to celebrate his swearing-in; Mance quietly made his way to a local non-profit agency where he spoke to a small group of youngsters.
Above all this Georgia son states, “I see myself with a lovely wife, beautiful children, and a career that helps people. I understand, I have the ability to take forward things that I believe.”
Originally Posted Here: http://ethanbrisby.blogspot.com/2013/07/history-happens-in-georgia-2nd-black.html
About the Author: Ethan Brisby is a writer, public speaker, and budding real estate entreprenuer. Brisby is the founder of the Team SHIFT, a Texas-based non profit targeting African American males; teaching princples for academic attainment, entreprenurship, and real estate investing. His core business values are partnerships and teamwork. Get connected with Ethan @ethanbrisby Facebook.com/EthanBrisby LinkedIn.com/EthanBrisby www.ethanbrisby.blogspot.com