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Oklahoma City Association of Black Lawyers award scholarships to third-year law students

By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter –OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma City Association of Black Lawyers (ABL) awarded the Melvin Combs Jr. Memorial Scholarship on May 4, 2021, to three third-year law students. The Oklahoma City Association of Black Lawyers is composed of African-American attorneys and judges throughout the Oklahoma City area.

This year’s scholarship recipients are Joshua D. Hillard (Oklahoma City University School of Law), Sara N. Franco (The University of Oklahoma College of Law), and Jon Paul Ray (The University of Tulsa College of Law).

Each recipient received scholarship funds to assist with expenses related to taking the bar exam in Oklahoma.

The scholarship is named after the late attorney Melvin Combs Jr. (July 17, 1941 ~ December 26, 2020) who, dedicated part of his legal career to tutoring African-American law students, helping more than 100 students prepare for and pass the Oklahoma Bar Exam without seeking compensation or recognition.

The Melvin Combs Jr. Memorial Scholarship was made possible through donations from ABL members and McAfee & Taft Law Firm.

Melvin Comb, Jr. was the recipient of the Oklahoma Bar Association (OBA) Trailblazer Award for making a profound impact on the legal profession by paving the way for more African American law students to pass the bar exam. He did not pass the bar exam on his first attempt in the early 1970s, and he was determined to make sure that other African American law students were prepared to take and pass the bar.

Combs, along with Herbert Graves and William Sullivan formed the first integrated law firm in Oklahoma in 1974.

Known as the “Godfather” among his peers, Combs began using the firm’s law library at night and on the weekends during his years of mentoring young law students

Melvin and his daughter Lori Combs practiced law together for over 20 years in the Oklahoma City area.

A graduate of the University of Oklahoma School of Pharmacy, Combs earned a Bachelor degree in Chemistry from Central State University, as well as receiving his Juris Doctorate Degree from Oklahoma City University.

The Oklahoma City Association of Black Lawyers was founded in 1980 and is a community service organization committed to serving the needs of the African-American community through activism, comradery, education, and inspiration.

The Oklahoma City ABL is the official Oklahoma affiliate chapter of the National Bar Association. For more information, visit the Oklahoma City Association of Black Lawyers Facebook page.

Melvin Combs, Jr., who practiced law with his daughter Lori Combs for over 20 years, was known as the “Godfather” among his peers for his years of mentoring young law students studying for the Oklahoma Bar Exam. Facebook photo
From left: Linda Samuel Jaha, ABL Scholarship Chair, Tiece Dempsey, ABL President, Sara N. Franco, scholarship recipient, Joshua D. Hillard, scholarship recipient, and Brittini Jagers Johnson, ABL Secretary. (Award recipient Jon Paul Ray not pictured). Photo provided.