Springfield's First Black Lawyer, Sully Jaymes

Springfield’s First Black Lawyer, Sully Jaymes, Honored with Ohio Historical Marker and Celebration

In a long-overdue recognition, Sully Jaymes, one of Springfield’s first Black attorneys and a tireless civil rights activist, is being honored with an Ohio Historical Marker, the 10th in Clark County.

A Trailblazer’s Legacy Etched in History

The Conscious Connect, a Springfield-based nonprofit, spearheaded the project to commemorate Jaymes, who opened his law practice in the city in 1903 and provided free legal services to the Black community during a time of profound racial tension.

“It is extremely important that local Black history is properly archived and curated, so that the next generation of change-agents can be inspired by those who came before them,” said Karlos Marshall, president and co-founder of The Conscious Connect.

The marker’s text highlights Jaymes’ remarkable life, from his birth between 1875 and 1880 to his graduation from the University of Michigan Law School in 1901 and his unwavering commitment to equal rights.

A Celebration of a Springfield Legend

To mark this momentous occasion, The Conscious Connect is hosting a marker dedication ceremony and block party on Saturday, June 8, 2024, at the pocket park located at 1615 Woodward Ave.

The event, which begins at 1 p.m., will feature multiple speakers sharing Jaymes’ legacy and the marker’s significance, along with music, games, books, and free food while supplies last.

“Come help us celebrate this Springfield legend,” The Conscious Connect said in a social media post, inviting the community to join in the festivities.

A Lifetime of Advocacy and Impact

Jaymes’ impact on the Springfield community was far-reaching. He represented high-profile cases, including the lynching victim of the 1904 race riot and several African Americans indicted in the 1906 and 1921 race riots.

“He was one of Springfield’s most tireless activists for equal rights,” according to the Clark County Heritage Center.

Jaymes also played a prominent role in discussions around school segregation at Fulton Elementary School and led efforts to stop the 1921 screening of the controversial film “Birth of a Nation” in Springfield.

A Tribute to Ability and Influence

Even in the face of adversity, Jaymes’ legal prowess and influence were recognized. When a white woman accused of first-degree murder requested Jaymes as her defense attorney in 1937, the judge making the appointment stated, “The Court considers this request as a tribute to your ability and influence before our courts and juries.”

With this historical marker and celebration, Sully Jaymes’ legacy as a pioneer, advocate, and trailblazer will be forever etched in the annals of Springfield’s history, serving as an inspiration for generations to come.