Tucked in the far southwestern corner of the Hoosier state, a tiny community not big enough to be considered a town has quietly spent the last 175 years advocating for the advancement of black Indiana residents.
Lyles Station, an unincorporated community along the Patoka River in Gibson County, is long past its heyday of 800 residents working their farms, practicing their trades and educating their children. But as the only historic rural black settlement still standing in Indiana, the remaining Lyles Station residents have dedicated their lives to preserving the legacy of their ancestors.
To attract more minorities into the legal profession, particularly the judiciary, young people need to be able to picture themselves working as attorneys and judges, said Norris Cunningham, chair of the Indiana State Bar’s Diversity Committee. When legal professionals gather to celebrate black leaders such as Roundtree, then young people are likelier to feel they have a place among Indiana’s judges and top attorneys, Cunningham said.
Though he was unable to attend the Lyles Station event, Cunningham had previously learned of the community through a conversation with John Morton-Finney, the civil rights activist who was believed to be the longest-practicing attorney in the country, working for a span of 85 years before his death in 1998. Morton-Finney spoke highly of the Lyles Station settlers, so Cunningham did his own research and became inspired by the strides the community made for black people in Indiana and across the country.
“He talked about it with a real sense of pride,” the Katz Korin Cunningham, PC shareholder said. “…It was just really touching to learn about it from him.”
To read the full story in The Indiana Lawyer, click here