MEMPHIS, Tenn. — One local lawyer has made history by becoming the first black female president of the Memphis Bar Association.
Memphis is a city with so much history and people living here today continue to make their mark.
A native Memphian, Tannera Gibson, is making history in the courtroom. She’s an attorney at Burch, Porter & Johnson, a law firm in Memphis, leading personal injury, healthcare liability, and medical malpractice cases.
“I had people I was tasked with serving call me colored. I’ve had them call me little black girl. I’ve had them call me all kinds of things,” Tannera said.
Taking steps forward in her career, Tannera has had quite the experience. As a minority in law, her story resonates with many others envisioning themselves in positions like hers.
“I don’t want to say it’s an elephant in the room, but it’s definitely something a lot of us have been conscious of,” Tannera said.
Aside from making a name for herself in the courtroom, Tannera is shattering glass ceilings as a black female lawyer in Memphis. Last month, Tannera became the newest president of the Memphis Bar Association.
“No one who looks like me has ever held this position in the MBA’s 147-year history,” Tannera said.
She’s the first black woman to hold the position, and follows behind the first Asian American president, two individuals who rarely saw themselves in positions of power.
To show how much this accomplishment really means, Tannera’s news as president went viral on Twitter and Facebook.
“It’s frustrating to me that there are still so many firsts, but I’m very grateful that I’m in this place because I want other lawyers who look like me to believe that this is a place for them, that there is a place for them,” Tannera said.
These moments are honorable, especially knowing the history of the firm she serves.
A man named Lucius Burch helped lead the Burch, Porter & Johnson law firm in the 1940’s. He was known nationally, not only as a lawyer, but a Civil Rights Activist who was an attorney for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.
He wrote a letter in 1963 to the Memphis Bar Association, saying it needed black members.
“He actually referred to black people as negros in the letter with a capital “n” and that was very sobering for me,” Tannera said, “I was trying to think of the significance of me being the first black female president, like why it matters and that’s what it is. You know, inclusivity looks all kinds of ways now.”
Fifty-eight years later, Tannera became the law firm’s wildest dream, making her own dream and helping others come true one step at a time.