Attorney Mawuli Mel Davis’ (below, center) heavy heart over the death of his brother last week was partially soothed when he was bestowed the Legal Champion Award at the 54th annual Equal Opportunity Day Dinner held by the Urban League of Greater Atlanta. While he mourned his loss, he given so much to others who have also experienced painful and tragic losses.
Davis has used his juris doctorate (law) degree to give back to the community and advocate for wronged individuals, particularly during the string of unarmed black male shooting deaths in metro Atlanta, and has done so at such a level that the co-founder of the Davis Bozeman Law firm has been dubbed the Benjamin Crump of Georgia (Crump famously represented the parents of Trayvon Martin). And this is why he was recognized for his indefatigable advocacy of legal justice in Atlanta and Georgia.
Davis was among the giant dignitaries, such as the head of the US. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, U.S. Congressman Hank Johnson and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who were paid homage by the Atlanta Urban League for the outstanding work they are doing in the area of justice.
“The Equal Opportunity Day Dinner recognizes those who have gone the extra mile to bring about change in the area of criminal justice reform. We are excited to applaud their efforts that are aligned with our theme ‘Standing Up for Justice: Embracing Change…Restoring Hope.’ The theme and their actions reflect the Urban League’s mission of justice and equality for all,” said Nancy Flake Johnson, (above, right) president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Atlanta.
Other honorees included Atlanta City Councilman Derrick Boazman, Herman Andrews and Tereance Puryear. in a program whose Major sponsors were: Geico, Cox Enterprises and The Coca-Cola Co. Dinner Co-Chairs Are Nick Nelson, ULGA Board Chairman Juliet Hall, a ULGA board member and manager of Community Affairs at Chick-Fil-A.
Radio/TV personality Egypt Sherrod, HGTV, and award-winning journalist Mark Winnie of WSB TV were the emcees, while the Blake Group Band provided the entertainment.
Honorees by category:
Equal Justice Champion: Loretta Lynch was sworn in as the 83rd Attorney General of the United States by Vice President Joe Biden on April 27, 2015 after being nominated by President Barack Obama in November 2014. As U.S. Attorney General, Lynch has prioritized criminal justice reform, continuing the Smart on Crime initiative started by her predecessor Attorney General Eric Holder. Since she was unable to attend (but thanked the Urban League via video), John A. Horn (above, center), the United States Attorney in the Northern District of Georgia, accepted on her behalf. The occasion gave Horn the opportunity to boast on the criminal justice reform initiatives his office has undergone, including the “Reentry” program for formerly incarcerated youth as well as the Youth Justice Summit.
Community Philanthropy: Derrick Boazman (above) was elected to Atlanta City Council in 1997 and left his seat in 2004. He is now president of Facilitation Strategies Inc. which specializes in strategic planning and group facilitation. The Atlanta native and Morris Brown College graduate was an outspoken advocate for the rights of minorities as a city councilman and has appeared on CNN, Court TV, Nightline TV and other national syndicated radio shows.
Legal Rights Champion: Mawuli Mel Davis, Esq., is co-founder and partner at the Davis Bozeman Law Firm, leading the firm’s Civil Rights and Criminal Defense Trial section. He is considered an “activist attorney” and was named Humanitarian of the Year by the Atlanta Chapter of the NAACP and Kappa Alpha Sigma Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. He has also been dubbed “the liberation lawyer” from representing civil rights activists engaged in protest. Mr. Davis was presented the Southern Center for Human Rights “Luminary Award” this year for his work in holding police accountable.
Criminal Justice Reform Champion: Governor Nathan Deal’s public service life has spanned more than four decades in Congress and as governor. He has made criminal justice reform a priority in Georgia taking steps to reduce the prison population, ease reentry and combat recidivism. Notably he has implemented a “ban the box” measure that prohibits state employers from asking about criminal history on job applications.
Legislative Justice Advocate Champion: Hank Johnson now in his fifth term in the U.S. House of Representatives for the Fourth Congressional District of Georgia is a member of the House Armed Services Committee. Rep. Johnson filed the Police Accountability Act and Grand Jury Reform in 2014 in the wake of police shooting deaths of unarmed men across the country. Prior to taking his seat in Congress in 2006, he practiced criminal defense law for 27 years, spending 12 years as a magistrate judge and five as a county commissioner.
Urban League Guild: Herman Andrews is the Development Associate at 24/7 Gateway LLC. Responsible for building relationships with business, civic and government leaders to end homelessness in Atlanta. Retired from the U.S. Army after 21 years of service, Mr. Andrews is the first male ever to be elected president of the UrbanLeague of Greater Atlanta Guild in its 65 year history. He is an executive committee member of the National Council of Urban League Guilds and chairs its virtual town hall meetings addressing police reform.
Urban League Young Professionals: Tereance Puryear is in his second year as president of the Urban League of Greater Atlanta Young Professionals. A supply chain professional and Atlanta native, at the Urban League Mr. Puryear works with a dynamic group of 21 to 40 year old professional leaders driving the mission of empowering communities and changing lives. He is a Scout leader with Boy Scout Troup 100 at Best Academy and member of the 100 Black Men of Atlanta Emerging 100.