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Videos, Website Chronicle BC Law’s Black History

New site traces how the community evolved over nine decades to become a powerful voice for inclusion and academic excellence.

BC Law students in 1976.  

The Black History at BC Law project, which officially launched in April 2024, was a year in the making.

The Black Law Students Association (BLSA) and the Black Alumni Network (BAN) had been advocating for support around the archiving of their organizational histories for some time. Shortly after she arrived in January 2023, Dean Odette Lienau formed a team of researchers, administrators, and videographers to tackle the project. The team came up with a proposal: The first part centered on the production of a video featuring Professor Emerita and BAN co-founder Ruth-Arlene Howe ’74. The second part involved the creation of a website dedicated to Black history at the Law School.

“This was such an ambitious and important project,” said Dean Lienau. “Professor Emerita Ruth-Arlene Howe was the first Black female professor to achieve tenure and the rank of full professor in our school’s history—and much of that history, particularly in relation to our Black students and alumni, was reflected in her own materials and her memory.”

“As we prepare to graduate the largest class of Black students ever, this year seemed to be a particularly appropriate time” to celebrate the community’s many accomplishments.

Dean Odette Lienau

“Furthermore, we really wanted to help preserve the archives and celebrate the many accomplishments of our Black community,” Dean Lienau explained. “As we prepare to graduate the largest class of Black students ever, this year seemed to be a particularly appropriate time to do so. I am grateful to the hard work of the BC Law team and advisory group in pulling this impressive content together and making it accessible to all!”

Over the course of the year, the team formed an advisory group of BLSA and BAN members, reviewed school archives, visited Professor Howe at her home in Utah to scan documents and record oral histories, interviewed Black students and alumni, gathered photos, and worked on site content.

Professor Howe’s video launched in the fall of 2023, followed by the gradual release of nine other extended video interviews with Black alumni and students. The website launched in April 2024, with a detailed history, timeline, additional videos and photos, alumni profiles, articles from the BC Law Magazine and Alledger archives (a student-run newspaper from the 1980-’90s), the BC Law Impact Blog, and more.

Team members included Avi Bauer, Digital Initiatives & Scholarly Communication Librarian; Lisa Brathwaite, Assistant Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Laurel Davis, Legal Information Librarian & Lecturer in Law/Curator of Rare Books; Nate Kenyon, Director of Marketing and Communications; Seung-hwan Leo Kim, Digital Initiatives & Scholarly Communication Specialist; Sean Doolittle ’24, Graduate Assistant, BC Law Magazine; and Vicki Sanders, Editor, BC Law Magazine.

Print materials from Professor Howe’s private papers will be permanently archived at the University. The team plans to continue adding content, and welcomes submissions from students and alumni.

Visit the Black History at BC Law Website.