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Wayne Law dean honored with equality award

June 17, 2014

Wayne State University Law School Dean Jocelyn Benson was honored Wednesday, June 11, with the Frederick Douglass Equality Award.

The award was given by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Task Force Inc. at its Justice and Equality Awards Ceremony in Southfield. The award honors leadership and significant contributions to promote justice and equality.

Benson’s areas of expertise include civil rights law, education law and election law. Prior to becoming dean, she served as associate director of Wayne Law’s Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights. The center honors Keith, a legal and civil rights leader; promotes civil rights educational opportunities; and works to develop the next generation of civil rights activists.

Prior to joining the law faculty in 2005, Benson clerked for Keith on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. She also worked as a legal assistant to Nina Totenberg at National Public Radio and investigated hate groups and hate crimes for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

She is the founder and executive director of the nonpartisan Michigan Center for Election Law, which hosts projects that support transparency and integrity in elections.

Benson was nominated for the award by Dorothy J. Dean, president of the task force. The all-volunteer organization, established in 1985, sponsors the annual MLK Peace Walk Celebration in Southfield each year, offers scholarships and promotes the importance of celebrating diversity.

“Wayne Law is proud of our commitment to serving the public interest, and I’m truly blessed to be able to work with talented students and faculty every day to advance civil rights locally,” Benson said.

Training the next generation of lawyers, advocates and leaders