As a community college student in Virginia Beach, Va., Sidney Calloway was falsely accused of stealing from a Wendy’s he co-managed. The only African-American to have risen to that level locally, he felt the management was trying to get rid of him. “Race was indeed very much an issue in Virginia Beach at the time,” he says.
Summoned to face internal disciplinary action, he remembered his mother had given him a lawyer’s card and said to call if he ever needed help. The lawyer, a white man in a blue seersucker suit, accompanied him for free to the meeting, which was canceled with no action taken against Calloway. “I was so impressed,” Calloway recalls, “with the idea that he just walked into the room with me and everything was OK.”
|SIDNEY C. CALLOWAY|
Shutts & Bowen
Education: Law degree, Washington University, St. Louis; bachelor’s, political science and international affairs, FSU
Four-plus years as an assistant public defender: Misdemeanors, DUIs, then juvenile crime. “That broke my heart. I said if you don’t get me out of here, I’m quitting.” He moved up to adult felonies ranging from drug trafficking to murder.
Favorite film genre: Westerns, especially films by Clint Eastwood and John Wayne. “I don’t care too much for lawyer movies.”
Four children: Ages 14, 10, 3 and 22 months
Mistake young people make with mentors: Not going to the mentor. “You have to give up the idea that you’re burdening me. If I’m too busy, I’ll tell you.”
Active: Broward Early Learning Coalition, Broward Workshop, Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce and Florida Transportation Commission
He has mentored dozens of young professionals. This year, he worked with the T.J. Reddick Bar Association, a group for African-American attorneys in Broward, on a professional development series of workshops. “It’s been something of a ministry, if you will.”
Calloway, 47, and the firm represented several hundred black farmers, mostly in Florida and Georgia, trying to collect damages for discrimination by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in lending and technical assistance. He also has pursued more diversity on the bench.