Sen. Hank Sanders

Number 1458 - May 20, 2015



            “I am not going to be a lawyer.”  I heard those words multiple times from each of my children by birth.  They were so emphatic!  The lawyer lives that Faya Rose and I have lived seemed to make them determined not to be lawyers.  However, on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, I received a phone call from my daughter, Malika Fortier.  She said, “Daddy, I passed the Bar!”  Malika is the oldest of my three children by birth, but she was the last to proclaim passing the Bar.

            After Malika’s good news was posted on my Facebook page, I received nearly 1,100 likes, more than 200 comments and almost 50 shares.  It was my biggest Facebook response.  As a result, I was inspired to share the rest of the story in Sketches.

            Our children said they would never be lawyers because “lawyers run too much.”  Faya and I tried to explain that not all lawyers run as much as we do.  However, we never tried to persuade them to become lawyers or go to law school or do anything with the law.  We allowed them to find their own way.  They all found their way to Lawyer Land.

            Malika is our oldest by birth, but she followed the longest and most circuitous route to the Bar.  She graduated from Spelman College in 1995, entered Jones Law School in Montgomery in 2001 and quit after two quarters.  She and her husband separated and eventually divorced.  She said it was too much to go to law school with a child.  She also said that she did not really want to be a lawyer.

Kindaka went to Harvard Law School right out of Morehouse College in 1997.  Ainka taught at a pre-school after graduating from Spelman College in 2000.  Then she moved to Nashville, TN.  She entered Vanderbilt University Law School in 2004 and graduated in 2007.  I heard Kindaka say in the year 2000, “Daddy, I passed the Bar!”  I heard Ainka say in the year 2008, “Daddy, I passed the Bar1”

 Ten years after Malika quit night law school, she started again.  By this time she had four children.  When she finished she was the mother of six.   Her husband, Franklin Fortier, graduated with her but has not yet taken the bar examination.  Both attended the Birmingham School of Law every Saturday, starting at 9:00 a.m. and often ending at 8:30 p.m.  Sometimes they went on weeknights as well.   How is it that Malika could not stay in law school with one child but eventually completed law school with six children?  She became a warrior woman.

Kindaka married Michele Alexandre, a close friend who graduated from Harvard Law School with him.  Both worked at our law firm for several years.  Kindaka teaches law at Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston, TX.  Michelle teaches law at the University of Mississippi School of Law.  They are deep into the law.

Ainka remained in Nashville working as a public defender on juvenile cases for Metro Nashville.  She is profoundly involved in the Nashville community and is well respected in legal circles.  She is deep into the law.

Malika is not only the mother of six children, but a full time legal assistant/administrator at our law firm.  She has a radio ministry and is assistant pastor of a small church.  She gave birth twice while she was in law school and still attended her next classes several days later.  She is a warrior woman. 

If I do say so myself, all three of our children have excellent legal minds.  They are deeply involved in the law.  More importantly, they are good human beings who try to use the law to make a better world.  I am proud of them.  We are a family of lawyers.

The family of lawyers stretches horizontally as well as lineally.  My sister by marriage, Carolyn Gaines-Varner, is a lawyer.  Her deceased husband, Perry Varner, was a law school graduate.  The family is just full of lawyers.

Our oldest granddaughter, Askhari Little, graduates from Selma High School in a few days and is headed to Spelman College in Atlanta.  She intends to go to law school. Amadi, our second oldest granddaughter, has two years of high school remaining but will go to law school.  The family is full of lawyers and more are on the way.

What produced these many lawyers in one family?  I don’t know the answer.  However, Malika reminded me of people calling my mother “Lawyer Sanders” because she gave so much advice in spite of having just a seventh grade education.  She also reminded me of hearing my story about how I cried because the children in my seventh grade class laughed at me when I said that I was going to be a lawyer when I grew up.  She said that seeds planted sometimes bear fruit at unexpected times and in unanticipated ways.

Now on to the Daily Diary.

Saturday, May 9, 2015 – I walked, handled various matters and worked into the night.  I communicated with various persons.

Sunday – I walked and did Radio Sunday School with Malika Fortier and Radio Education with Perry County School Superintendent John Heard.  I hosted a Mother’s Day dinner and worked into the night.  I communicated with the following:  Faya Rose Toure and Malika Fortier of Selma; Ainka Jackson of Nashville; Elouise Robinson of Baldwin County; Dixie Bonner of Talladega; Lelia Gordon of Massachusetts; Ella Sanders of Georgia; Dr. Roberta Watts of Gadsden; Dr. Carol P. Zippert of Greene County; Carolyn Wheeler of Signal Mountain, Tennessee; Barbara Pitts of Auburn; and Retired Birmingham Businessman Julian Smith.

Monday – I walked, handled various matters, read Sketches on Faya’s Fire, traveled to Lowndes County, returned to Selma for the Selma to Montgomery March 50th  Anniversary Foundation Board meeting, traveled to Greene County, returned to Selma and worked into the night.  I communicated with the following:  Lowndes County Commissioners Dickson Farrior, Robert Harris, Joey Bargainier, Carnell McAlpine and Brent Crenshaw; Lowndes County Administrator Jackie Thomas and Engineer David Butts; Wallace Community College Selma (WCCS) President Dr. James Mitchell; Felecia Pettway of Wilcox County; Carolyn Gaines-Varner of the National Voting Rights Museum (NVRM); Sharon Wheeler of Montgomery; Greene County Commissioners Tennyson Smith, Lester Brown, Corey Cockrell, Allen Turner, Jr. and Michael Williams; John Zippert of Greene County; and Bobby McKenzie and Dr. Fannie McKenzie of Georgia.

Tuesday – I walked, handled various matters, made it to Montgomery by 8:00 a.m., handled other matters, met with various persons, attended an Alabama Legislative Black Caucus meeting and a press conference, participated in a Senate Session, returned to Selma and worked into the night.  I communicated with the following:  Alabama Businessman Jimmy Baker; Joe Fine of Montgomery; Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford; Senator Vivian Davis Figures; Frank Barragan of Mobile; Rev. Hugh Morris of Talladega; Holly Caraway and Kirsten Barnes of the Senate Minority Leader Office; Sharon Calhoun, Melodie Ellis and Pat Chatman of Montgomery; Gus Townes of Montgomery; Shelley Fearson and Jeanette Thomas of Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC); Senator Billy Beasley; and Senator Rodger Smitherman.

Wednesday – I walked, traveled to Montgomery for a Finance and Taxation Education (F&TE) Committee meeting and other meetings and returned to Selma for a meeting.  I discussed community issues over dinner with Faya Rose Toure, Dr. Margaret Hardy and Alecha Irby.  I communicated with the following:  Pernila Simley Brown of Jackson, MS; Ellis Kirkland of Canada; Lowndes County School Superintendent Dr.  Daniel Boyd; Yvette Patterson of Lowndes County;  Representative Thad McClammy; Montgomery Businessman Frank Jenkins; Selma Banker Liz Rutledge; Jimmy Goldsby of WCCS; and Larry Avery of Atlanta.

Thursday – I walked, handled various matters, attended a preschool graduation, met with the Zilkha family, made remarks at an industry ribbon cutting for Zilkha Biomass Energy, traveled to Montgomery, then to Lowndes County where I had dinner with education leaders and returned to Selma. I communicated with the following:  Sadie Moss of McRae Learning Center; Michael and Nina Zilkha, Selim Zilkha and Mary Hayley, Daniel and Janice Zilkha, Jack Holmes, Jr. and others of Houston, TX; Selma Mayor George Evans; Wayne Vardaman of the Selma Centre for Commerce; Dallas County Probate Judge Kim Ballard; Senator Priscilla Dunn; Senator Bobby Singleton; Representative Kelvin Lawrence; and Lowndes County School Board members Annie Hunter, Steve Foster, Robert Grant, Ben Davis and Travis Rogers; Hale County Circuit Judge Marvin Wiggins; and Joe Espy of Montgomery. 

Friday – Faya Rose and I had breakfast with Askhari Aziza Little on her 18th Birthday.  I hosted Faya’s Fire, handled many matters and discussed issues over dinner.  I communicated with the following: Edwin Ellis and Lorraine Capers of Selma; John Deamer of the Black Belt Community Foundation (BBCF); Veronica Williams, Johnny Moss and Sherrie Mitchell of Selma; Retired Law Professor Martha Morgan of Tuscaloosa; Montgomery Businessman Frank Jenkins; and Dr. Henry Mabry of Montgomery.

EPILOGUE – What causes us to become what we become?  The easy answer is everything.  But everything tells us exactly nothing.  So we focus on this experience or that example.  Yet, the same experiences and examples often impact multiple persons in the same household in opposite ways.  We cannot be sure what causes us to become what we become.  However, seeds planted usually bear fruit of its kind.