Civic Engagement, Legal

Henry P. Latimer Award

In 2017 I was fortunate enough to receive the Henry P. Latimer Award from the Florida Bar. The award is to recognize professionalism, service and inclusiveness within the legal field.

Henry Latimer is well known within the legal community due to the Florida Bar naming their professionalism award after him, however many young lawyers may not know much about the man behind the name. Born in Georgia and raised in public housing of Jacksonville, Florida, Henry Latimer had a challenging upbringing. This did not stop him from becoming the change he sought in the world around him.

He attended Florida A & M University in 1963, and a Master of Arts Degree, with honors, in Supervision and Administration from Florida Atlantic University in 1967. During the mid-1960s, he taught economics and history at Fort Lauderdale’s all-Black Dillard High School. He later decided to go to law school, and in 1970 was one of only eight Black students in the University of Miami’s Law School freshman class.  He graduated with his Juris Doctoris in 1973 and went on to become both a member of the Board of Trustees for the University of Miami and a Broward Circuit Court Judge.

While Henry Latimer had many other notable moments in his career, it was his pro bono service that is most important. He never forgot his humble beginnings and worked to lift up those around him. Whenever necessary he gave back to the community, not for accolades or to move up the professional ladder, but because he knew that was part of the responsibility he took on as a minority with a law degree. His journey is not one of being a lawyer, but one of being a person who used his legal skills to promote his humanitarianism. Henry Latimer’s life is a lesson about the power of change and how we can be that change if we but seek it.

By Khurrum Wahid

Khurrum Wahid received the Henry P. Latimer Award in 2017