In the latest installment of an annual tradition, the BC Law Black Alumni Network joined forces with the Black Law Students Association and hosted a BAN/BLSA Welcome BBQ for incoming students on September 9. The two longtime organizations are driving forces for community-building, professional development, networking, fundraising, and service at BC Law, and their spirit was very much in evidence at the BBQ.
An affiliate of the National Black Law Students Association, BLSA focuses on sensitizing the legal establishment to the needs of the Black community, promoting the professional needs of Black law students, and assisting in the recruitment, retention, and placement of students of color.
BLSA also strives to foster and encourage professional competence within its membership through various academic and career workshops, sponsoring special programs such as their annual Kwanzaa celebration, a Heritage dinner, and programs for Black History and Diversity months. In addition, BLSA works closely with other area BLSA chapters and with the law school’s Black Alumni Network (BAN) to develop career-related, social, and educational programs.
BAN is a group of dedicated alumni who strive to build community and programming within the BC Law Black community. It provides mentor and career-focused opportunities for BLSA members. The alumni also provide support ad hoc for students’ needs as they arise, whether it be specific financial need that requires fundraising, providing panelist recommendations, or making a professional connection.
A preeminent example of the BC Law community’s support for BLSA and BAN is Professor Emerita Ruth-Arlene Howe, an alum, retired professor, and director emerita of BAN’s board of directors. A beloved advisor to BLSA for many years, she is also the namesake of the Ruth-Arlene W. Howe ’74 Black Student Leadership Initiative. Named in honor of her by alumni and friends of BAN, it provides scholarships for students who have demonstrated a commitment to the Black and/or African-American descent community at the Law School or in under-represented communities.
BAN has also touched students with acts of kindness. For instance, last winter, BAN provided afro-stitched sweaters to students in the BAN mentor program. In a BC Law Impact post, Travis Salters ’23, vice president of the blog, quoted the response of Matthew Bowser ’22, which reflected students’ feelings about receiving the sweater.
“It’s more than just a sweater,” Bowser said. “It’s knowing there’s a community in which you don’t have to qualify your existence or the things you say. Where you don’t have to use specific posture, language, and inflection. Where you don’t have to explain the context of how you feel because we live that context every day. And it’s knowing that there are villages still raising us children, knowing we’ll do the same one day.”