The 1619 Project Law School Initiative will help spark conversations about the legacy of slavery in legal education, panelists said in a webinar on February 26, 2021. The webinar kicked off The 1619 Project Law School Initiative.
“Our law school curriculum is inadequate,” said Asena Tui’one, a third-year law student at Howard University. “It doesn’t critically examine the state of the law in relation to our history nor has it evolved to consider our current state, thus inadequately preparing us to legally advocate for our brothers and sisters.”
The 1619 Project Law School Initiative provided Tui’one a chance to contribute by including important, but excluded, topics in law school education. Apart from Tui’one, another law student at Howard University, Mike Walker, and two recent graduates of the University of Miami law school, Maddie Seales and Ariana Abulafia, spoke about why they were involved in the project, and what benefits the project might bring.
“What drew me to the project was an opportunity to share works that had totally changed my perspective, informed my career goals, and to share those with other law students, some of whom may already be … on that path or some who may not be,” Abulafia said. “I think from that informed perspective law graduates become more effective advocates.”
The Pulitzer Center, in collaboration with the law schools at Howard University and the University of Miami, hosted the webinar. Rodney Slater, former U.S. secretary of transportation and chair of the board of the Squire Patton Boggs Foundation, started the webinar with brief remarks, where he noted the importance of the curriculum created within The 1619 Project Law School Initiative.
“The 1619 Project for law schools … affords us to arm ourselves with the knowledge to finish this job of making our nation a more perfect union,” Slater said.
After Slater, Carmia Caesar, assistant dean of Career Services at Howard University’s School of Law, and Marni Lennon, assistant dean for Public Interest and Pro Bono at the University of Miami School of Law, spoke about what the initiative has achieved so far.
“This project that allowed students to come together with such a phenomenal set of resources and expand its reach through the creation of modules that can be inserted in whole or in part to law school courses and curriculum is just phenomenal,” Caesar said.
Panelists further spoke about why a project like The 1619 initiative is crucial for law students.
“It is so important for future law students … to understand the full implications of the power of each and every part of the law and to be able to think critically about who creates … and who dispenses the knowledge about it, and I think The 1619 Project is a step towards making that happen,” Seales said.
Finally, panelists answered audience questions about what they wish for the future of law school education.
“Moving forward, I’d like to see that every law school across the country implement some of the supplemental information into classes like civil procedure and constitutional law,” Walker said. “The topics that these courses cover have huge implications for Black communities and communities of color in general.”