By Jackie Hampton,
Throughout the nation, statistics show that only 5% of all lawyers in the United States are African Americans. This is the same percentage that existed 10 years ago, even though 13.4% of the U.S. population is now black. Hoping to become one of many to change that statistic is Kendrick J. Amerson.
On Thursday, April 22, Kendrick J. Amerson, Esquire, was admitted to the Mississippi State Bar and was sworn in by The Honorable Judge Denise Sweet Owens. The Honorable Judge Crystal Wise was also present at the swearing in ceremony.
Amerson received his Juris Doctorate, in May of 2020 and his Juris Masters in May 2019 from Appalachian School of Law, in Grundy Virginia. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in history from Tougaloo College in 2015.
Hinds County Law Clerk Charity Bruce, Esquire, spoke of Amerson’s character and fitness to serve during the ceremony. Bruce said to Amerson, “I am so happy to see you join the profession. I know you are an outstanding individual with the knowledge and integrity to serve.” Bruce, who attended Tougaloo College with Amerson, attested to his outstanding morals and his knowledge in the field of law.
In front of family and friends Judge Owens asked Amerson to raise his right hand as he repeated the oath to serve the constitution of Mississippi. Upon completion, Judge Owens said, “With that oath, I can accept you into the practice of law.” Hearing those words, Carolyn Amerson, who is the grandmother jumped up and down with joy while other family members cheered in the chambers of the Honorable Denise Owens, who seemed just fine with the family’s reaction.
Judge Wise, who also knew of Amerson’s accomplishments, stated he had worked with her mother, Pat Wise, whom she referred to as the ‘original Judge Wise.’ She said to Amerson, “I am so proud to see that you have become a confident and progressive young man. I know you will make a successful lawyer.”
Judge Owens surprised Amerson when she read a letter from Attorney Constance Slaughter-Harvey who expressed how proud she was of Amerson upon being admitted to the Mississippi Bar. Slaughter-Harvey, a well-known Civil Rights attorney and the first black female judge to serve in Mississippi, said she wanted Amerson to follow in her footsteps.
When later asked about her comments Amerson smiled and said, “I was so inspired to hear her words because Attorney Slaughter-Harvey is one of the greatest attorneys of all times. I am proud to represent her legacy as we both are Tougaloo graduates. This is one of the nicest things an attorney has ever told me.”
Amerson, thanked everyone for being present and for the support he has been given over the years. He said, “Just 5% of all lawyers in the United States are black and only 4% are under the age of 30. I would not have been able to achieve this if it had not been for God and all the support I received from family and friends.”
Amerson told The Mississippi Link he was so excited when he walked into the chambers of Judge Owens and saw so many of his family members and friends. “Through the ups and downs my family and friends have supported me. That moment was amazing and it signified that I have arrived.”
Amerson continued, “As a child from the inner-city, I proved that anyone can do it, and yes, I did it. My biggest regret is that my great grandparents are no longer with us and missed my big day, but they were definitely there in spirit and I felt their presence.”