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African-Americans Reach Out to One Another in New Alumni Group
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Common Ground
BY LARRY TEITELBAUM
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The idea for a black alumni group has been incubating for several years, according to Anthony Gay Lí94, another leader of the new PAALAS group. After a few false starts, Gay said he, Wendella Fox CWí73 Lí76, and Damon Hewitt Lí00 decided to get serious about the effort, appropriately enough, at a Sadie Alexander conference two years ago.

Indeed, the legacy of Sadie Alexander looms large at the Law School (see related article). A touchstone to black alumni, Alexander was an African-American woman of great accomplishment, in an era of discrimination and limited opportunities. At Penn, she became the first African-American woman in the nation to earn a doctorate in economics and, in 1927, was the first to graduate from the law school. Subsequently, as an officer for the American Bar Association and assistant city solicitor in Philadelphia, she made a name for herself, and engendered such respect that President Truman appointed her to the Presidentís Committee on Civil Rights, whose report provided impetus to the nascent civil rights movement.

After she died in 1989, the Black Law Students Association began to sponsor a conference every year at which students, alumni and prominent speakers discuss legal issues pertinent to the African-American community. And so it is only fitting that Sadie Alexander has become a focal point of PAALAS.

Reavis, a principal at Elam Reavis LLP, puts it this way: "Itís one thing to write a check (to Penn Law). Itís quite another to write a check that you know is going to increase the endowment for a civil rights professorship at Penn Law."

 
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