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Black Excellence in Leadership, Scholarship, & Advocacy

February 14, 2023

Black History Month
Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, explore some of the myriad examples of Black excellence in leadership, scholarship, advocacy, and activism across Penn Carey Law.

The Office of Equity & Inclusion (E&I) at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School celebrates and elevates the diversity of our community. For Black History Month, E&I curated some of the numerous examples of Black trailblazers, thought leaders, and advocates across the Penn Carey Law community.

Student Leadership

Devontae Torriente L'24 and Ty Parks L'24

Last fall, Devontae Torriente L’24 and Ty Parks L’24, Advocacy Co-Chairs of the Law School’s Black Law Students Association, published an op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer examining what’s at stake – from immediate impact on admissions processes to broader education accessibility concerns – in two affirmative action cases currently pending decision before the United States Supreme Court.

“The cases, Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. University of North Carolina, could fundamentally reshape the landscape of higher education and limit social mobility for students from marginalized communities. They could also unravel years of legal precedent.”

Read the full piece at The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Simone Hunter-Hobson L'23, Chayla Sherrod L'23, and Layla June West L'23

For the first time, three Black women students are leading three of the seven prestigious law journals at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School: Chayla Sherrod L’23, University of Pennsylvania Law Review; Simone Hunter-Hobson L’23, Journal of Constitutional Law; and Layla June West L’23, Journal of Law & Social Change.

Read the full article at The Philadelphia Inquirer.


Faculty Scholarship & Advocacy

Quattrone Fellow Anjelica Hendricks

Policing Marginalized Communities

This past semester, Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice Research Fellow Anjelica Hendricks engaged students in the study of how policing intersects with race, gender, ability, and other intertwined socio-economic identities. In her trailblazing new course “Policing Marginalized Communities,” Hendricks poses questions such as: To whom do police forces answer? What is considered criminal activity? Who is involved in determining whether police activity constitutes misconduct?

Shaun Ossei-Owusu

Velvet Rope Discrimination

In an article published in the Virginia Law Review, Shaun Ossei-Owusu LPS’08, Presidential Professor of Law, pioneers the legal analysis of race, gender, and sex discrimination that social scientists have demonstrated to be pervasive in bars, nightclubs, and restaurants across the country. While tactics such as dress codes and gender-based pricing schemes have been litigated for decades, legal academics have devoted relatively little scholarly attention to the practices’ civil rights implications as Ossei-Owusu has done in “Velvet Rope Discrimination.”

Cara McClellan

The Case for Affirmative Action

Practice Associate Professor and Founding Director of the Advocacy for Racial and Civil Justice Clinic, Cara McClellan GEd’12 shares how affirmative action benefits institutions and how the diversity it brings helps colleges and universities fulfill their educational missions.

Dorothy Roberts

‘The 1619 Project’: The Past is Present

‘The 1619 Project’ chapter on race, written by George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology and the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights Dorothy E. Roberts, is featured in a new six-part Hulu docuseries based on the collection curated by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones.

Alumni Achievements

Damon Hewitt L'00

Reaching Accountability: Policing, Race, and Policy

Damon Hewitt L’00, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, hosted a panel discussion, “Reaching Accountability: Policing, Race, and Policy,” to examine persistent questions about pathways to meaningful police accountability and what true public safety looks like for Black communities in 2023 and beyond.

Christina Swarns L'93

Leading the Innocence Project

Christina Swarns L’93, who has dedicated her career to criminal justice reform, spoke with Essence about her position as Executive Director of the Innocence Project.

Olivia Bethea

Intellectual Property Reparations

“The Unmaking of ‘Black Bill Gates’: How the U.S. Patent System Failed African American Inventors” by Olivia Bethea L’21 was published in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review Online.

What We’re Watching & Reading

Ben Jealous

Beyond America’s Racial Fault Line

A dialogue with Distinguished Visiting Fellow Ben Jealous about his new book Never Forget Our People Were Always Free: A Parable of American Healing.

1619 Project Thumb

The 1619 Project on Hulu

Hulu’s six-part docuseries seeks to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the center of our national narrative.

Never Forget Book Cover

Never Forget Our People Were Always Free

Jealous is a Professor of Practice at the Annenberg School for Communication, the School of Social Policy & Practice, and Distinguished Visiting Fellow, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School.

Dorothy Roberts Torn Apart Book Cover

Torn Apart

Dorothy E. Roberts’ book, Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families — And How Abolition Can Build a Safer World​, examines the fundamental racism of the child welfare system, which collaborates with law enforcement to police families in ways that disproportionately and negatively affect people of color and advocates the abolition of this system.

Black History Month - 1

Biddle Libraries: Black History Month Book List

Explore recently published books on the work of pioneers such as Dr. Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Ed’1918, G’1921, L’1927, Hon’1974; Constance Baker Motley; Elreta Melton Alexander Ralston; and more.

Thirty-Fifth Annual Sadie T.M. Alexander Conference

Join us on Saturday, February 25 for the 35th Annual Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander Commemorative Conference, hosted by Penn Carey Law’s Black Law Students Association.

First organized in 1988, BLSA has hosted this conference to honor Dr. Alexander’s legacy by delving into legal issues that are pertinent to the Black community and committing to progressive legal advocacy.

This year’s conference, “The End of Affirmative Action: Diversity in Education in a Post-Brown World,” will explore the historical roots of affirmative action policies and the ways in which those policies have perpetually come under attack.

This year’s conference will have a special focus on the pending affirmative action litigation at the U.S. Supreme Court and how the cases may impact the diversity of the American educational landscape. Programming will center conversations around segregation and inequity in K-12 classrooms.

The program includes five highly distinguished and expert advocate speakers: Practice Associate Professor Cara McClellan GEd’12, Jin Hee Lee, Rakim Brooks, Deborah Klehr, and keynote speaker Professor Dennis Parker.

Register here.