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Diversity & Inclusion 2021: Christa Barber Moss, The Milly Project

milly-project-christa-mossAssistant U.S. Attorney, Civil Division

U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Missouri, Springfield

Growing up as a multiracial child in a predominantly white community, it didn’t take Christa Barber Moss long to realize she stood out. Decades later, as a Black female attorney in Springfield, some of those same childhood observations remain.

“Listening to my parents and aunts and grandparents share stories from their past, it was not lost on me how different my upbringing was from theirs, how I was not that far removed from significant historical cultural shifts in our country and how blessed I was to enjoy certain opportunities,” she recounts.

Whether as a mentor to younger lawyers or a girls’ volleyball coach, while in law school at William & Mary or practicing in Tulsa, Kansas City or southwest Missouri, Moss lives the values she espouses.

She joined the federal prosecutor’s office in June after three years as clerk for U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge David P. Rush. Moss previously worked as a private practice associate in Tulsa and an assistant city attorney in Kansas City.

She’s being honored along with David McCain Jr. for their joint efforts to organize CLE programming featuring The Milly Project, a play that documents the life of Milly Sawyers, an enslaved woman who won her freedom in an 1836 lawsuit in Greene County.

Who has most inspired you in your work for Diversity & Inclusion, and why?

I have several mentors . . . however, it is perhaps my family that truly inspires me the most. I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the sacrifices my parents made to constantly encourage and support my ambitions. I want them to be proud of the woman they raised and to know how influential their interracial, cross-cultural marriage and intentional parenting decisions have been in my desire to influence change. Even more, I want the world to see diversity and inclusion the way they taught me to see it: vital, beautiful and powerful. I am also inspired by my husband, Maurice [Moss, also a 2021 Diversity & Inclusion Awards honoree], who makes it possible for me to juggle motherhood with my career and community service, and whose own story as a Black male motivates me to ensure a more diverse and inclusive society for our son.

Lastly, my children inspire me because I earnestly yearn for them to enjoy more opportunities than their father and I have and experience a culture that is even more diverse and inclusive than the last. 

What must Missouri’s legal community do to promote meaningful and long-term diversity within its legal/justice system? 

The legal profession remains one of the least diverse professions in the country. To promote meaningful change, we must first value diversity beyond racial and gender quotas and strive to create a culture in our legal communities that also embraces diversity of thought, background, experience, economic status, political and religious ideology, education, geographic heritage, ability and more. The Missouri legal community must also be more intentional: more intentional about challenging and changing attitudes and biases that undermine diversity and inclusion efforts; more intentional about developing metrics that actually address disparities; more intentional about recruiting diverse talent; and more intentional about sponsoring and mentoring underrepresented groups in the practice of law.

2021 Diversity & Inclusion Awards