SARASOTA, Fla. — The full-service business law firm Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP recently sponsored a special performance and panel discussion of Florida Studio Theatre’s production of “Alabama Story,” a true story of a legal controversy during the civil rights movement.
The firm partnered with the Sarasota County Bar Association’s Diversity Committee and Florida Studio Theatre to present an evening performance and post-performance discussion on May 28.
The discussion was moderated by Chief Judge Charles E. Williams of the 12th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida and featured local attorney William E. Partridge of Grossman Roth, P.A. and his brother, Dr. Edward E. Partridge, who grew up in Demopolis, Ala., a town that is featured prominently in “Alabama Story.” Playwright Kenneth Jones and actor Andy Prosky, who played Alabama State Senator E.W. Higgins, were also on the panel.
The Higgins character is based on real-life Senator E.O. Eddins, whose fight with Emily Wheelock Reed, the director of the Alabama Public Library Service Division, is the main conflict of the play. Eddins wanted Reed to remove a book that depicts the forest wedding of a rabbit with white fur and a rabbit with black fur from library shelves. Eddins was Dr. Edward and William Partridges’ uncle.
“It was fascinating and touching to hear the Partridges speak about their uncle from a human perspective, both to acknowledge his faults as well as to recognize how he grew more tolerant and accepting later in life,” said Shumaker employment law attorney Daniel R. Strader, a current member and a past chair of the Bar Association’s Diversity Committee. “The Partridges also spoke movingly of their own experience growing up in the segregated South and coming to terms with the misguided views of their neighbors.”
Shumaker was the presenting sponsor of Florida Studio Theatre’s production of “Thurgood” in 2014, a play about Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. When the Bar Association’s Diversity Committee founded the Booker High School Law Academy, which works to increase knowledge of legal careers among the diverse student population of Booker High, Shumaker sponsored the jury box in program’s mock courtroom.
“Shumaker believes strongly in the importance of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and is proud to support diversity initiatives both within the firm and in the communities in which we work,” Strader said. “Shumaker has been a long-time partner of the Bar Association Diversity Committee and has supported several of its programs.”
Proceeds from the “Alabama Story” event will fund the Sarasota County Bar Association Richard R. Garland Diversity Scholarship. Each year, the scholarship is presented to deserving law school students from diverse backgrounds in connection with a summer internship experience in Sarasota.
The Sarasota County Bar Association’s Diversity Committee also partners with local law firms, governmental agencies and nonprofit legal service organizations to provide paid summer employment opportunities. At the conclusion of the internships, interns receive a scholarship of up to $5,000.
About Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP
Founded in 1925, Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP is a full-service law firm with more than 245 lawyers and five offices in Toledo and Columbus, Ohio; Tampa and Sarasota, Fla.; and Charlotte, N.C. Shumaker is a premier provider of quality legal services. Whether it's commitment to clients or work in the community, involvement lies at the core of all of Shumaker’s initiatives.