As this year’s president of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) at Rutgers Law School in Camden, I had the pleasure to welcome members of the Rutgers Law community to the 23rd Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Champions of Social Justice and Equality Awards Ceremony.
This year, our ceremony represented a momentous occasion for our organization as we celebrate 50 years of leadership, legacy, and service. BLSA’s success could not be possible without the previous BLSA presidents who have served at the forefront as leaders by pioneering the very ideals that BLSA embodies. This is also a special moment for Rutgers Law School as we celebrate the appointment of Co-Dean Kimberly Mutcherson as the first woman, LGBTQ, and African American leader of the law school.
BLSA was proud to honor several social justice champions, including The Honorable Judge Carolyn Nichols; Dr. Molefi Assante; Maria Lewis, Chief Diversity Officer of Drinker Biddle Reath LLP; and Rhasheda Douglas, director of the Minority Student Program in Camden. While pursuing different paths, each of these honorees embodies the essence of Dr. King’s vision of social justice, equality, and equity.
Amidst all that we have to celebrate, our 50th anniversary is taking place during a pivotal moment in our nation’s history. Our nation’s values, convictions, and resolve continues to be tested — whether at a high school in New Jersey, where a student was degraded in the most inhumane way by being forced to cut his hair or risk disqualification from a wrestling match; a public space in Kentucky, where two African-Americans were murdered for nothing more than their skin color; or a courtroom in Philadelphia, where a Rutgers Law School alumna was harassed to withdraw from a judicial presidency campaign because of her race.
As diverse aspiring legal professionals and attorneys from Rutgers Law, we collectively occupy a unique platform which enables us to seek justice. In honoring Dr. King’s legacy, it is equally as important to acknowledge the fervor of the man that stated, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed,” as it is to recognize the idealistic hope of the man who said, “I have a dream.”
It is imperative that we remind ourselves to not grow complacent with success. Instead, I implore everyone to remember that we are still striving, even in 2019, to realize Dr. King’s dream. So, as we celebrate our organization’s accomplishments and those of our distinguished honorees, let us remember we are not finished, and we must continue to fight for the dream.