Skip to main content

FunTimes Magazine

Michael Coard

A criminal defense attorney with more than 20 years of state and federal trial experience, specializes in murder cases; worked at the Charles W. Bowser Law Center after serving as Legal Counsel for State Senator Hardy Williams.

The skilled courtroom advocate received his degree in law from Ohio State University and his undergraduate degrees in English Education and Political Science from Cheyney University. While in law school serving as president of the Black Law Students Association, he led the activism that compelled Ohio State University to divest its funds from companies doing business with or in apartheid-governed South Africa.

As an attorney, he successfully litigated at trial of a historic private criminal complaint that sought a murder prosecution of a White police officer who killed an unarmed Black teen. He has served as local co-counsel for journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal whose death sentence was vacated. Moreover, nearly half of his criminal cases in general are pro bono. And he is a recipient of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s prestigious Thurgood Marshall Award, the NAACP’s, and the Barristers Association’s prestigious Cecil B. Moore Award, and is a recipient of Cheyney University Alumni Association’s Martin Luther King Jr. Spirit Award.

As a community activist, he is a founding member of Avenging The Ancestors Coalition (ATAC), the organization that helped lead the historic, successful battle to force the federal government to commemorate the African descendants enslaved by President George Washington at America’s first “White House,” located at the site of the Liberty Bell Center. He is a founding member of Judging the Judges as well as “F(ilm) The Police.” He serves as one of the attorneys for Heeding Cheyney’s Call, to compel Pennsylvania to end its decades-long racial discrimination against the oldest African-American institution of higher learning in America.

He is an adjunct professor in the African Studies Department at Temple University and volunteer instructor of Criminal Justice in the university’s Pan African Studies Program. In addition, he hosts the “Radio Courtroom” show on WURD900-AM and the “TV Courtroom” show on Comcast/Verizon and is a columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune and Philadelphia Magazine.

Coard is proudly known as "The Angriest Black Man in America,” a description that hails from author James A. Baldwin who once stated: “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”

Name a discovery you made as a Black man: 

The most surprising, enlightening discovery was when I was an 18-year-old Cheyney University student during an African History course. I learned that Africa is not only the cradle of civilization and intellectualism but also is the cradle of humankind because the first human was from the Nile Valley region of East Africa 200,000 years ago. And that was 170,000 years before the first European came into existence in the Caucasus Mountains of Eurasia.

How do you push through your worst times?

I push through by realizing they are irrelevant compared to the hell my enslaved ancestors endured. I'm a lawyer, professor, radio and TV host, and journalist living an easy life because my ancestors suffered through an unimaginably hard life. All that I am is all from them. I therefore will always avenge them by honoring their struggles for my freedom and by continuing their battles for racial justice.

Describe a soul-restoring story about Black family life and love? 

Although the Black family appears dysfunctional, it's not really our fault. First, the family wasn't dysfunctional in Africa, and it wasn't even during slavery, despite the brutal buying and selling and forced separations of husbands from wives, fathers from mothers, and brothers from sisters. The widespread problem began later with Jim Crow laws that denied jobs to Black fathers and welfare laws that penalized Black mothers who had Black husbands at home. Even though about 30 percent of African-Americans are married compared to nearly 50 percent of all other Americans, African-Americans had and still have more societal, i.e., racist, hurdles to overcome. People would be shocked to know that from 1890-1960s, African-Americans age 35 and older were more likely than White Americans to be married. Accordingly, in order to rebuild the Black family, we have to return to our African and pro-Black consciousness.