Home Immigration Lawyer The Importance of HBCUs – An Immigration Lawyer’s Perspective

The Importance of HBCUs – An Immigration Lawyer’s Perspective


Part of the Diversity and Inclusion Blog Post Series

Black History Month, occurring within the U.S. yearly in February, highlights and celebrates the achievements of African Americans and acknowledges their central function in U.S. historical past.  Since 1976, each U.S. President has officially designated February as Black History Month.


I’m a proud member of the Class of 1996 of Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University, one of many largest traditionally black universities within the United States.    Historically Black Colleges and Universities, known as HBCUs, are establishments of upper schooling created previous to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the intention to primarily serve the African American group.

In 1946, Heman Marion Sweatt, an African American mail provider in Houston, utilized to attend the University of Texas Law School what place Theophilus Shickel Painter was the college president.  Mr. Painter admitted that Mr. Sweatt had met all trainings and certifications for admission to the regulation college, however for the truth that he was black.

Mr. Sweatt filed a Writ of Mandamus to compel admission to the University of Texas Law School. At that point, there have been no regulation colleges within the state of Texas what place black college students have been permitted to enroll.  In this matter, the Texas trial choose continued the case which gave the state of Texas time to create a “separate but equal” college and regulation college to encompass it.  This college, created in 1947, would later evolve into Texas Southern University in 1951 and the Thurgood Marshall School of Law, formally named so in 1978.

Initially housed in Austin, Texas, in a basement, the college didn’t present an equal schooling to black college students as would have been provided have been they college students on the University of Texas.  Mr. Sweatt refused to enroll on the newer college, and filed go well with in opposition to Painter.  Thurgood Marshall, then the Chief Counsel for the NAACP, represented Mr. Sweatt.

Thurgood Marshall constructed his case across the inequities of a separate schooling on the college provided to Mr. Sweatt — what place all the pieces from the sq. footage of the school rooms, measurement of the library, availability of books and supplies, and variety of professors was much lower than on the University of Texas.  Further, Mr. Sweatt could be studying in isolation.  Sweatt’s case on the U.S. Supreme Court prevailed in Sweatt v Painter, 339 U.S. 629 (1950) when The Court dominated unanimously that pursuant to the Equal Protection Clause, Mr. Sweatt have to be admitted to the University of Texas.

Mr. Sweatt was admitted to the UT Law School, which paved the way in which for black college students to be admitted into regulation and different graduate packages.  While Sweatt v Painter didn’t go so far as it ought to have, it led the way in which a couple of years later for Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954) (additionally argued by Thurgood Marshall) that held that separate however equal was unconstitutional and overruled one of many worst U.S. Supreme Court choices in historical past, Plessy v Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896).

It is essential to notice that Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University didn’t take the title of Thurgood Marshall till 1978, when he agreed that his title may very well be added to the college in an official naming ceremony that he participated in.  The preliminary hesitation was as a result of the college was at the start born in controversy under the since-overruled separate however equal doctrine.

By the time I began regulation college in 1993, the establishment had been relocated from that basement in Austin to Houston, Texas.  The then- and continued present-day mission of the law school is constructed upon increasing possibilities within the authorized occupation for the underserved and to organize a various group of scholars for management roles within the authorized occupation, enterprise and authorities. The college’s mission supports fairness and is a superb equalizer for individuals who attend.

Personally, I felt it was a tremendous place to attend regulation college. It ready me for the true world and an amazing and diverse profession in immigration regulation. I labored for a solo practitioner in Houston after which turned a accomplice in a long-established boutique immigration regulation agency in Miami with a previous AILA National President, Michael Weiss, and now I’m a shareholder in a big nationwide regulation agency.  i’ve additionally had the distinction of serving because the president of AILA South Florida, a nearly-1,000 member giant chapter of AILA.

I credit score my success to the alumni community of Thurgood Marshall School of Law, the atmosphere, the assist, the mentors I met there and nonetheless flip to, and the lifelong friendships i’ve developed with classmates.  I might be eternally grateful for the possibilities and happiness this has allowed me.

The regulation college is dedicated to civil rights, social justice and human rights.  It was at this HBCU that I first stepped into an immigration regulation class.  I loved it a lot, it led me to enroll the following semester in a extra higher level seminar model class led by an immigration choose, and which additional sparked my interest within the discipline of immigration regulation, not one thing I had heard of previous to regulation college and even thought-about.

I used to be guided to my profession path in immigration regulation by way of my schooling at a HBCU, an establishment dedicated to educating immigration regulation.  I ought to notice, I used to be a regulation pupil  over 25 years in the past, at a time when immigration regulation was not on the radar of many regulation colleges and legal professionals. An HBCU helped me get a job supply earlier than commencement with a good immigration regulation agency in Houston. I competed in opposition to college students from conventional regulation colleges (in that they weren’t HBCUs) and was chosen out of 60 candidates for the place.

I consider my experience at one of the vital various regulation colleges within the nation, one which opens their doorways to all races, gave me a special perspective and is an experience I couldn’t have gotten wherever else. It ready me for the true world, to understand and settle for totally different viewpoints and likewise to have empathy and perceive among the harsher realities of life.  The college was not in a rich space however quite within the Third Ward of Houston, what place our regulation college parking zone ran alongside the sting of Jack Yates High School, the college George Floyd attended near my years in regulation college.

My experience at a HBCU particularly taught a sure toughness, what place I had a wonderful schooling and graduated very ready for the true world.  We have been taught life classes there which I don’t consider are taught at most regulation colleges.  We have been taught as graduates of a HBCU we’d have to be additional ready and work more durable to beat stereotypes; that professionalism is crucial as well as how we carried ourselves, all the way down to the small print of our apparel and look.  (Members of AILA South Florida if something, know that i’m a strict costume code enforcer for occasions, particularly congressional- that is what place it comes from.)

I’m proud that now my regulation college, has the very first LLM program in immigration law in the U.S. selling black college students and different minorities for excellence in our discipline which in flip will assist the immigrant group. I hope we’ll see extra packages like this sooner or later, to information extra Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) attorneys to our discipline of immigration regulation, and hope to see extra graduates of HBCUs intertwined in AILA management.


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