A Juneteenth Message

Dear Members of the Law School Community, 

Next week, we celebrate Juneteenth, marking 156 years since news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached Texas, the last state in which people remained enslaved. The Wayne Law community honors the generations of enslaved people who withstood horrific atrocities. I cannot overstate the significance of Juneteenth. The events of the last year, including the trial and conviction of Derek Chauvin and the increase in violence against Asian Americans, serve as solemn reminders of how far we still have to go in fighting racism, creating systemic change and achieving racial equity.
We’ve spent many hours this past year at the Law School looking inward and evaluating how we can do better. And, working together and implementing ideas from faculty, staff, and students, we have made some strides. We added a Movement Lawyering class, the Community Advocacy Clinic and a Public Service 2 – Social Justice Lawyering Externship. We also established a series of OMSE workshops for first-year students on a variety of topics. This summer, we are launching the Damon J. Keith Pre-Law Summer Institute, led by our new Assistant Director of Student Engagement and Culture. In the fall, students will be able to experience our holistic defense partnership with the School of Social Work. We’ve added three outstanding new tenured or tenure-track faculty members whose research directly intersects with racial and social justice, two of whom will start this fall. Throughout this time, I have been especially grateful to our student leaders for their constructive partnership and inspirational leadership as we move toward meaningful and lasting change. We know there is much work still undone.
As you celebrate and reflect on the importance of Juneteenth, I want to highlight the following events and materials:

  • Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Marquita Chamblee, WSU’s Chief Diversity Officer, and the Office of Multicultural Student Engagement have put together an incredible slate of Juneteenth events, beginning with the Opening Celebration on Sunday at 2 p.m. See the full schedule and view resources provided by the Juneteenth planning committee.
  • On Wednesday, June 16, the Black Law Students Association will take over the Law School’s Instagram account to discuss the importance of Juneteenth and more. Tune in throughout the day by following @WayneLawSchool.
  • Also on Wednesday, the Law School’s Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights is co-sponsoring “1921 – 2021: The Centennial Discussion on the Tulsa Black Wall Street Massacre.”

The road ahead is long. But as I speak with students, faculty, staff, alumni and other stakeholders about the many steps still in front of us, I find hope, optimism, and energy. More than ever, I believe that by pushing forward together, we can and will create and sustain meaningful change in our school and our community.

Richard A. Bierschbach
Dean and Professor of Law

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