On International Peace Day, we come together to think of our world in the bigger picture. We come together in unity through positivity, helpfulness, remembrance, and triumph. Although today marks a national celebration day, we were able to take part in a celebration of an individual in the Nashville community who spent his career striving for justice, equality, fairness and peace.
The 10-year anniversary committee of the Justice A.A. Birch Building dedicated a statue of Chief Justice Adolpho A. Birch, Jr. a state Supreme Court judge, who served 37 years as a judicial stalwart, on Saturday, August 27th and dGC was honored to manage creative services, public relations, media relations, event planning and management.
The celebration, held in Birch’s honor, included a program with a statue unveiling, ribbon cutting and award celebration. Immediately following the program, a reception, with live music, continued to celebrate Justice Birch who historically served at every level of the court system within the State of Tennessee. Justice Birch’s legacy was honored with an eight-foot, life-size bronze statue with a four-foot granite base to include an historical marker as part of the rededication of the Justice A. A. Birch Building. Designed by nationally renowned sculptor Brian Hanlon, the statue was unveiled in the plaza area in front of the Justice A. A. Birch Building along with 150 guests, friends, judges and the public.
Justice A. A. Birch Jr. is known as a judicial legend and was the first African-American prosecutor in Davidson County. The unveiling of the eight-foot bronze statue was an incredible way to pay tribute to him. Not only was he the first African-American prosecutor, he was also the county’s first black judge in both General Sessions and trial courts. Later in his career, Justice Birch became the second justice on the state Supreme Court who was of color and the first to serve as chief justice.
Birch repeatedly used a simple quote in urging black attorneys to keep a high profile in their communities as a way to inspire others stating often: “You can’t be what you can’t see” (Randall Dickerson, Real Clear Politics).
Presiding General Sessions Judge Rachel Bell served as committee chair for the total effort. “It’s quite fitting, too, because Justice Birch was, and is, a larger-than-life judicial trailblazer, and now we can all see and say that literally,” said Bell.
Birch’s family sat in the front row as the bronze statue was showcased in his memory and honor. “He believed that through the practice of law, the most noble of professions, in a city that was the epicenter of social change at the time, he could improve the human condition,” said Birch’s son, Adolpho Birch, III, a Vanderbilt University Law School graduate and lawyer for the National Football League.
“He could impart civility, he could impart humanity. He could hold us to our highest ideals. Justice. Equality. Compassion for all citizens. I do not speak for him lightly.”
Also present was Mayor Megan Barry, who spoke at the podium with powerful words, “The things that he stood for, that meant the most to me, are justice, fairness, equal access under the law, honor and most importantly, reaching back to pull younger people along to help them make their way in the legal profession,” she said.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Peace isn’t merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” As a keeper of the peace, seeing the community support of Birch was wonderful to experience. On a day, like #InternationalPeaceDay, we’re honored to remember his life and legacy.
Reference: Dickerson, Randall. “1st Black Tenn. Chief Justice, Adolpho Birch.” Real Clear Politics. Real Clear Politics, 26 Aug. 2011. Web. 21 Sept. 2016.