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UDC Law SBA and BLSA organize March for Justice

Monday, June 8, 2020  
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Nina Ego-Osuala
Nina Ego-Osuala chants with crowd at March for Justice. (J.A. Black Photography)

Law students from around the region, faculty, alumni and other supporters gathered at Pennsylvania Avenue and 3rd Street to before Saturday’s March for Justice in downtown Washington, one of at least a dozen protests throughout the District and surrounding area. UDC Law’s Student Bar Association (SBA) and Black Law Students Association (BLSA) spearheaded the March for Justice, inviting faculty, staff, students and alumni from law schools around D.C. as well as friends, family and volunteers. The demonstration included contingents from Howard University School of Law, American University Washington College of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America and the George Washington University Law School. The event even drew a handful of admitted students who have yet to attend their first class at UDC Law but were eager to be a part of this powerful illustration of the law school’s mission. Volunteers handed out food, water, first-aid, hand sanitizer and other supplies and assisted with the distribution of flyers and information detailing protestors’ rights.

Jonteal Hasty
Jonteal Hasty shouts into a megaphone to rally protesters at March for Justice.
Crowd marching
The crowd at March for Justice

Prior to the start of the march, UDC Law Dean Renée Hutchins addressed the crowd, telling them “we have a lot of work to do” and placing the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery within the greater historical context of black deaths before asking, “What is the legacy going to be of this moment?” and urging the listeners to identify ways to continue taking action. Other speakers at the rally before the march included organizers Tonée Jones, Nina Ego-Osuala and Asha Burwell.

The group grew exponentially as they walked from the Capitol to the newly renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza and later to Malcolm X Park chanting “No justice, no peace” to a backdrop of signs that read “Black Lives Matter” and “Stop killing us.” Other signs called for the more active stance of anti-racism over non-racism, expressed support for anger in the face of injustice and urged the dismantling of oppressive systems. Particularly symbolic of a gathering organized by one of the nation’s six HBCU law schools, one sign read “Keep calm. Future lawyers are here” and several students donned black t-shirts with “Black Lawyers Matter” in bold white font. The t-shirt was one of two commissioned by Jones, who serves as Vice President of the UDC Law SBA; the other commemorated the day with the words March for Justice and an upraised fist.

Together, the weekend’s events drew the largest crowds yet after a week of demonstrations in response to the police killing of George Floyd. DCist described the weekend’s protests as “marked by a new kind of energy—joyful, celebratory, even triumphant.”

In a message to students, faculty and staff, Ego-Osuala wrote, “I sit in awe thinking about what we were able to do and how many people we were able to bring together to march for justice. People from all walks of life who understand the importance of having our voices heard and reiterating the fact that black lives matter. If they did not hear us before Saturday, they surely hear us now.” After thanking everyone who was instrumental in the march’s success, she concluded by saying, “We will continue to fight for the right to be Black in America and live free.”

The students’ efforts were captured by several local media outlets. Special thanks goes to Mikaela Lefrak of WAMU, Tom Dempsey of WUSA9 and Ken Duffy of WTOP for speaking with our students and walking with them along a portion of the route. For full media coverage of UDC Law’s March for Justice, see...

 
 
Relive the day by browsing photos and videos submitted by the students, faculty, staff and alumni who were there.

Students also shared their reflections on the day.

Students posing
UDC Law students pose for a photo at March for Justice
Tonee Jones and Nina Ego-Osuala
Organizers Tonee Jones and Nina Ego-Osuala rally protesters at March for Justice

“Black law students and lawyers are disproportionately represented throughout the nation. It’s important for UDC Law as both an HBCU and a social justice focused institution to leave its footprint during these trying times. For Black students, the concept we marched for on Saturday (#BlackLivesMatter) goes beyond today’s current news. We have all experienced and been victims of some sort of inequality because of the color of our skin and these injustices are highlighted more as we continue to learn the discrepancies in our legal system. As students, leading this march was liberating. We are thankful to have the UDC Law community to support us and ready for the necessary work that must follow. We will continue to fight for justice for victims like Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and so many more. We will continue to use our voices.” – Asha Burwell, Class of 2022

As a black woman, it was incredibly powerful to see and be surrounded by so many people calling for justice and equality. As a law student, it was amazing to see colleagues, professors and the Dean take part in this moment with us. To be supported this way by the law school lets me know that I picked the right law school for me because it aligned with my values. I’m so proud to be a student here. – Tiffany Brooks, Class of 2022

March for Justice was a demonstration of community, support and love for our black brothers and sisters. As a Latina and first-generation immigrant, I support Black Lives Matter because I know how it feels to be discriminated against. We marched from the Capitol to the White House as one community. We worked together, giving each other water, food, hand sanitizer and masks while marching during the COVID-19 pandemic. UDC Law is preparing my peers and me to be social justice warriors. As one, we can dismantle the -isms of this country and eradicate the racist epidemic that has festered for hundreds of years in this nation. We are the future! – Andrea de la Torre, Class of 2023

I just took a moment to look at all the photos and videos I had in my phone and the photos that were shared to the link we sent out, and tears welled up in my eyes. Being at the march was one thing; seeing all of the pictures, reliving the moment after it was over has been another. The amount of love and support that we have received, the countless, “we are proud of you all” – just everything. UDC Law is often slept on, and I think people now realize that we are a force to be reckoned with. When we come out, we come out. We fight for what is right, and this is nothing new. We have been doing this since we were Antioch School of Law. Our law school was built on the very premise that we need to fight for the rights of all. I am so proud to be a part of the UDC Law family, I am proud that we were able to accomplish what we did and I am excited for what we have to come. #UDCLawProud #UDCLawMade – Nina Ego-Osuala, Class of 2021

I was there and I wanted to add that I felt so much happiness and pride in my people and the people that came to show support. The last few weeks have been very hard for me mentally. But yesterday the turnout, the people helping each other out with offering water and supplies made my heart happy. It showed me that there are people out there that care and that we black people are not alone in this fight anymore. It gave me hope that we can create a better future. – Davita Kouwenaar, Class of 2023

 


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