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Two pioneering Alabama lawyers inducted into Women’s Hall of Fame, joining icons like Rosa Parks

Civil Rights Arrests-Records
FILE - Rosa Parks is fingerprinted by police Lt. D.H. Lackey in Montgomery, Ala., Feb. 22, 1956, two months after refusing to give up her seat on a bus for a white passenger on Dec. 1, 1955. The quest by a civil rights pioneer to have her arrest record wiped clean after nearly 70 years after she protested racial segregation has raised the possibility of similar bids to clear the names of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., whose convictions remain on the books in Alabama's capital. (AP Photo/Gene Herrick, File)

Two Alabama women who broke down barriers in the field of law are in the spotlight today. The Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame is adding lawyers Alice Lee and Mahala Dickerson as inductees. Lee became one of the state’s first female attorneys after passing the bar in 1948. She was followed five years later by Dickerson who became the first Black female lawyer in the Yellowhammer State. Valerie Burns works for the Hall of Fame. She stresses the importance of highlighting the achievements of these trailblazers who faced adversity.

“It’s just to acknowledge what women have always done and continue to do, so that other women see that we see it,” said Burns. “We’ve tended in the past to recognize those things through the lens of what men decided was important. But so much of the community is taking care of the community. And I think that Alice Lee would definitely have appreciated the example she set for other women.”

Other notable women to be inducted into the Hall of Fame include writer Harper Lee, actress Tallulah Bankhead, civil rights icon Rosa Parks, and disability rights activist Helen Keller. Burns also pointed out how Mahala Dickerson specialized in civil rights and women’s rights issues and often accepted pro bono cases.

“She didn’t mind facing off against giants. She was the first Black woman to practice law in Alabama. She’d already faced a giant just to get to that point. Being a Black female practicing law in Alabama in the 1950’s, you can pretty much can take anything. From everything I’ve learned about her, she’s just absolutely fearless.”

Lee and Dickerson will join other previous inductees including former Alabama Governor Lurleen Wallace, civil rights leader Coretta Scott King, and University of Alabama Librarian Amelia Gayla-Gorgas. The induction ceremony begins at ten thirty at the University of West Alabama.

Poppy Jacobs is an international student from England interning at Alabama Public Radio. Poppy majors in Political Science and Philosophy. She plans to pursue a career in journalism after completing her studies. In her free time, Poppy enjoys watching sports, particularly soccer (“football”) and Formula 1 motorsports, as well as reading, working out and travelling with her friends.

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