On Tuesday, a Nashville courtroom will again be home to the trial of civil rights protesters who took part in lunch counter sit-ins. The actual trials took place fifty years ago. This time, it’s a recreation meant to both commemorate a historic occasion and to educate today’s lawyers.
A local judge, Nashville’s district attorney, and a former US attorney are among the cast of players who will act out the legal moves that once put lawyers like Z. Alexander Looby in a dangerous spotlight. Looby was the lead defense attorney for all of the sit-in participants. For those efforts, someone bombed his home-an act of violence that ultimately lead to a silent march on city hall and the desegregation of lunch counters.
While the sit-in trials did not directly lead to desegregation, attorney Johnathan Cole says present-day attorneys can learn from the perseverance and approach of Looby and his defense team.
“You know, the lawyers, despite the impact on them or their careers, they stood up for the principals which obviously played out and over time turned out to be fundamental principals of the civil rights movement.”
The recreation is a highlight of the Nashville Bar Association’s annual Law Day celebration. It will serve as a continuing education credit for the attorneys in attendance. And Cole says a recording of the event will go into rotation on Metro’s cable access channel so the general public can see the trial, too.