Washington, D.C. -- The National Black Law Students Association's (NBLSA) members and executive board came together for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's (CBCF) 42nd Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) on September 19-22, 2012 for a weekend of discussions, planning and networking. The CBCF-ALC hosted more than 12,000 public officials, industry leaders, community activists, emerging advocates, and everyday Americans in the Nation's Capital to engage in policy discussions. During the conference, NBLSA hosted programming which called upon both local leaders and students, alike, to become servants of the community, advocates, and empowered leaders. Additionally, the weekend's events highlighted NBLSA's goal of continuing to develop talented, socially conscious Black lawyers in furtherance of their theme, "Enhancing the Dream."
Stand Your Ground Panel
September 20, 2012
At the "Stand Your Ground" panel, NBLSA brought together a group of powerful speakers to discuss the Stand Your Ground laws. The law, implemented in 24 states, allows a person to justifiably use force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of an unlawful threat. In the wake of the killing death of Trayvon Martin, an African-American 16-year old boy who was gunned down by a man who has claimed that his actions were justified under the "stand your ground" laws, our panelists offered reflection on the law's negative effects and offered alternative approaches that can be taken to prevent abuse and injustice.The panel, moderated by the University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law Professor Kemit Mawakana, included Christopher Brown, the Communications Director at Second Chance At Shoot First; Joe Briggs, Founder & Director of Strategic Operations of IMPACT-DC and Public Policy Counsel for the NFL Players Association; Daryl Parks, Partner at Parks & Crump Law Firm; and Michael Ashley, staffer for the Office of Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-FL). CEO and President of the National Urban League, Marc Morial, also gave opening remarks.Congressional Kids Day 2012 Recap
September 21, 2012
The NBLSA Congressional Kids Day of Service, sponsored by Bowman & Partners, LLP, was an encouraging day of education and inspiration, both for the NBLSA members and the students they met. The day consisted of NBLSA volunteers escorting a group of Washington D.C. high school students on a tour of Capitol Hill and another set of volunteers educating students about the new voter ID laws sweeping the nation at high schools around Washington D.C.The group that ventured to Capitol Hill included students from Eastern and Dunbar High Schools, respectively. These ninth and tenth graders, who are also a part of the Georgetown University Law Center's Street Law program, took a tour of the Capitol building and met with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), a graduate of Dunbar High School, herself. During the tour of Capitol Hill, the high school students did not waste any time asking NBLSA volunteers about college, financial aid, time management, and interpersonal skills. Many of the high school students never had personal interactions with law students and lawyers of color. Even fewer students had ever taken a tour of the Capitol or met with any member of Congress.That afternoon the students also attended the college accessibility and affordability forum at the Jones Day law firm. The forum featured a panel of leading experts in the field of education, including law school professors and social activists from across the nation.NBLSA volunteers also visited Cardozo, Bell Multicultural, Woodrow Wilson, and Spingarn High School, respectively. Volunteers educated more than 70 students on voter rights issues, including voter ID laws and disenfranchisement. The presentations included a history of voting rights in America, and the students were even administered a literacy test to help them understand the intricacies of Jim Crow-era voter disenfranchisement. Much like the students who toured Capitol Hill, many of these students asked inquisitive questions about motivations behind voter suppression and how they could make difference.The day proved to be a productive one, not only for the high school students who participated in the Congressional Kids Day, but also for the NBLSA volunteers, who proudly spread the message of voter advocacy, education and professionalism to the young people they inspired.College Affordability & Accessibility Panel
September 21, 2012
NBLSA held its College Affordability and Accessibility Panel at the Jones Day Auditorium in front of a crowd of middle school, high school, undergraduate, and law school students. In light of skyrocketing education costs and increasing loan rates, NBLSA's Advocacy Team held this panel to dispel the myths about both going to and affording college.According to the panelists, the rise in tuition costs disproportionately affects a vast number of minorities due to lack of income in many situations. This discussion led into dialogue on Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, an affirmative action case scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on October 10, 2012.The panel, moderated by Jummy Olabanji, an ABC-7 Reporter, consisted of distinguished speakers Zakiya Smith, White House Senior Education Advisor; Donald Garner, New York Department of Education Teacher Recruitment Manager; Donna Harris Aikens, Director of Education Policy at the National Education Association; Professor Aderson Francois of Howard Law School; Tiffany Dena Loftin, President of the United States Student Association; Angela Peoples, Policy Analyst at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and Eddie Connor Jr. from the Office of Congressman Hansen Clarke (D-MI).NBLSA Annual CBC Alumni Reception
September 21, 2012
Friday evening, NBLSA held the 9th Annual CBC Networking and Alumni Reception. Civic leaders, legal professionals and law students filled the building with fruitful conversation and an abundance of knowledge. They shared the opportunity to interact and enjoy a wonderful reception hosted by Reed Smith, LLP.The Alumni Reception featured catered food, refreshments, and a live trio band. The room was filled with a definite sense of excitement and energy throughout. The event began with Welcome Remarks from NBLSA's National Chair, Kendra Brown. Tyree Jones, Partner at Reed Smith, LLP, thanked NBLSA for continuing their partnership and being staunch social advocates. Taking a break from her busy CBC schedule, Angela Rye, Executive Director and General Counsel of the Congressional Black Caucus, Director of IMPACT-DC, and past NBLSA Western Region Chair, fired up the attendees speaking on the importance of being VoteReady in this critical era in American History. She urged all attendees to ensure all their colleagues and associates are prepared to vote on Election Day while being educated on the issues. Additionally, John Page, President of the National Bar Association (NBA), addressed all attendees about the relevance of the National Bar Association and the vital role young lawyers play in the furtherance of the NBA's initiatives. A. Scott Bolden, Managing Partner at at Reed Smith, LLP, joined the reception later to mix and mingle with young law students while providing insight on the dedication it takes to make it in the legal profession. The event culminated with the National Chair, Kendra Brown giving closing remarks and opening the breezeway for attendees to have a breathtaking view of our Nation's Capital.The Charles Hamilton Houston Leadership Retreat
September 22, 2012
The weekend culminated with the 7th Annual Charles Hamilton Houston Leadership Retreat. This year, over 200 chapter leaders from over 30 chapters registered for CHH. Attendees were given a special opportunity to interact with National Board Members and engage in intimate group discussions about the keys to successful leadership, NBLSA's vision for the future, and the invaluable role that chapter leaders play in Enhancing the Dream. Attendees were able to attend eight informative and instructive panel discussions including, The Total Money Makeover: Ensuring Your Chapter's Financial Fitness; iMembership: Recruiting, Communicating, and Connecting with Your Members; STILL Waiting for Superman: Educational Inequality--America's Kryptonite; deVOTEd: The Ballot or the Bullet--Obstacles to Exercising Your Right to Vote: Full Disclosure: Being the Right Hire. Keynote speaker, Professor John Brittain, encouraged students to stay informed of issues of equality and diversity in the legal profession and higher education. Concluding the day, the Full Disclosure panel discussion allowed senior attorneys, law firm recruiters, and students to hear about and discuss the essentials of professionalism, interviewing and the job search process.