Hello, Paralegal Nation! I’m happy to greet you where I meet you today. I’m hoping you’ll all choose to stand alongside me, proudly, as I share this post in honor of Heather Heyer and in support of social justice.
“WHO ARE WE TO STAND?
THE ONES WHO WILL.”
– Jamie Collins
My fellow paralegal and friend, Maren Schroeder, a fierce advocate for several causes, once said, “The ultimate way for a person to act as an advocate for a particular cause is for him or her to put his or her body on the line.” In other words, for one to STAND and potentially put his or her self physically in harm’s way because they feel compelled to stand for this cause, with their body, on this day.
On a Saturday night in the sweltering summer of 2017, while we all sat on our couches, or wherever else it is we were on that particular evening, Heather Heyer was standing: for people of every race, color, national origin, and religion. For humanity as a whole. For the right thing. For justice. She stood, a proud paralegal in the midst of absolute hate-filled chaos, in what she felt to be the pursuit of a worthy cause: social justice. And sadly, she died doing it.
The entire nation mourned her loss.
The paralegals mourned her loss, right along with it.
Something stirred inside the paralegals.
They felt a sense of unrest. A call to action.
It was as though they felt they needed to somehow pick up where Heather Heyer had left off.
But how? What could they do?
Fast forward past one online missive shared on this blog entitled: In Honor of Heather Heyer—The Paralegals Stand, an endless nationwide news cycle, a few months of time passed, and a whole nation full of passionate paralegals rallying behind a cause, and in fall of 2017, the Justice Champion Award was established in honor of Heather Heyer by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). Heather stood up for the underserved, disenfranchised and marginalized communities. And today, we, the paralegals—and other people reading this post today—STAND UP, not just for Heather, but for social justice.
Today, I STAND in the name of this cause. I’m throwing down roots and issuing a rallying cry. And I’m asking you to STAND alongside me. Proudly.
We, as paralegals, go to work each day in our respective law firms and the offices of our employers and dedicate ourselves to upholding some semblance of social justice. For those who don’t know us, the paralegals, here’s what you need to know about us: We don’t just believe in social justice during our eight-hour work shifts. No, sir. We believe in the concepts of social justice and human equality 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Every. Single. Damn. Day. With every pleading we create, every file we touch, each attorney we assist, and every single client whom we serve, WE ARE STANDING, on some level, in our own individual ways, for social justice.
Before I typed this blog post you are now reading, I initiated a grassroots effort on the front end to raise the funds necessary to bring Heather’s mother, Susan Bro, to the national convention in Seattle Washington, which will be hosted by NFPA at the end of October. I asked them to match The Paralegal Society with a $100 donation. I am pleased to tell you that Susan will be there to proudly pass out the first ever Justice Champion Award. And to make that happen, an AMAZING handful of organizations and people STOOD UP. Never have I been more proud to look to my left, and to my right, to see the people standing beside me. Here’s who stepped up to make this happen:
The Paralegal Society – $100
Indiana Paralegal Association – $100
Oregon Paralegal Association – $100
Georgia Association of Paralegals – $100
Mariana Fradman (NY) – $50
Bill Strachan (NY) – $50
Dominick Crea (NY) – $100
Angela Caruso (GA) – $100
Nilan Johnson Lewis, PA (MN) – $500 (wow)
Pretty amazing, right? But we’re not done yet! We still need to raise funds to make a donation to the Heather Heyer Foundation (both nominees’ selected charity, in the event they win), to be given in conjunction with the first ever Justice Champion Award! So, we funded the travel portion. (Check that box.) We now need to fund the charitable donation portion given in conjunction with this award. (And here enters the crowdsource and paralegal force.)
It is for this reason that I am standing here, on the screen today, boldly and unapologetically, to ask every paralegal who reads this post to make a symbolic donation today. Trust me, it’s WAY less than you’re probably thinking that I’ll ask you for. I am imploring you to make a symbolic gesture in honor of Heather Heyer and social justice in the amount of…$5.00. Yep, that’s right—a whopping $5.00. (You read that right.) For the cost of a few cups of coffee or chocolate bars, you can STAND with me today. That’s all it takes. $5.00 per paralegal. That’s literally it. With each of these symbolic individual gestures, WE ALL STAND TOGETHER, in a unified formation, to weave an invisible veil of integrity and symbolism upon the pillars of conviction, courage, pride, and commonality, in support of this worthy cause. (I’ll tell you where to go and how to do it at the end of this post.)
And when you go and push that button today, I don’t want you to feel silly, or ridiculous, or like your $5.00 donation is insignificant, or it’s so little that you shouldn’t bother making it. I want you to feel damn proud. And I want you to know as YOU push that button and enter your credit card information to make that small, symbolic donation, that there will be paralegals, nationwide (possibly, worldwide), STANDING ALONGSIDE YOU in a collective show of force, and they’ll be pushing that same button, too.
Be proud to push that button. Know that what you do makes a difference. Who you choose to BE, makes a difference. And more importantly, your $5.00, it’s going to make an impact. Push that button with a big smile pasted across your face because you’re an epic, symbolic, donor whose contribution will help change the world for the better.
The fact of the matter is that some people out there probably don’t think that WE—you and me, together—can rally together to raise these funds and actually make this thing happen. But they must not know us—you and me—very well, my friends. Because when given the opportunity to rise, WE DO. When given the easiest opportunity to make a difference in this world, you and me, WE MAKE IT. And that $5.00—it’s so little to give. But it’s everything to this cause. And so, we push that button, and together, WE STAND. With honor.
To those who may oppose us, as so eloquently stated by Bruno Mars, (and now, paralegals, everywhere), what I say to you is this:
“Don’t believe [us],
(No, for real. Just watch. Never doubt our power to change the world. We never do. Because we will, change the world—you and me. JUST WATCH.)
Who are WE to stand?
The ones who will.
Go here to donate: The Heather Heyer Foundation – be sure to click the box for “leave a comment” and then type “TPS” into the comment bar below where you type in the payment amount, so it will be credited to these crowdsource efforts and tallied appropriately.
Share the post FAR and WIDE, paralegals! Help us to get the word out. Rally the troops. We need you on that invisible line. #ParalegalsRise #ForHeather #4SocialJustice
Issue a social media challenge to the paralegals, attorneys, and law firms around you! Here’s mine:
I am challenging all attorneys in my network to make a donation, based upon the following scale (we totally trust you to categorize yourselves accordingly):
Good attorneys – $20
Great attorneys – $50
The BEST attorneys – $100
Until next time, keep it real, do good things, and be epic.