The Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law teamed up with several community and civic groups to commemorate the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday weekend through programs and service. From Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012 through Monday, Jan. 16, 2012, College of Law students, faculty and staff could chose from several events held at or near the College of Law - each tailored to provide some insight into the life and legacy of Dr. King.
On Thursday, Jan 12, 2012, the Black Law Student Association and Student Bar Association partnered with the Orlando Alumni Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and The Orlando Mayor’s MLK Commission to present the 8th Annual MLK Leadership Forum. “Social Justice: The Real Results of the Legal System” featured a discussion panel on education, economics and politics in the context of realizing Dr. King’s Dream. The discussion was moderated by Secily Wilson, a local television personality who has worked with CBS and NBC affiliates in Orlando, and FOX affiliates in Tampa and Macon, Georgia.
College of Law Associate Professor Jennifer Smith (Center) participates at the 8th Annual MLK Leadership Forum at the College of Law
The panel included Dr. James Lawson, Orange County Public Schools; Honorable Reginald Whitehead, Administrative Circuit Judge, Ninth Judicial Circuit Court; Jennifer Smith, Associate Professor, FAMU College of Law; Dr. Vibert White, Associate Professor, University of Central Florida, Department of History; and Attorney Paul C. Perkins, Jr., Paul & Perkins P.A. - whose father became the first African American in the State of Florida to hold a high legal position when named Orlando’s City Prosecutor by mayor Bob Carr in 1965 (the namesake of the Paul C. Perkins Bar Association in Orlando).
The event began with each panelist providing the definition of social justice as it relates to their particular areas of expertise or employment. This led to further discussion on topics that included race, politics and education, with members of the audience chiming in regularly. The panelists fielded comments and questions from FAMU Law professors, law students, residents of the historic Parramore community, local attorneys and individuals representing Occupy Orlando. Among the more than 120 audience members in attendance were several judges and members of the MLK Commission, as well as attorneys Jeff Ashton and Ryan Williams, candidates for Orange-Osceola State Attorney.
The Leadership Forum is an annual event for the Orlando Alumni Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., which supported the event through the I.S. Hankins - F.A. Johnson Education Foundation. Committee members included Reginald Hughes, and FAMU College of Law alumni Chmari Anderson (‘08) and Camara Williams (‘08).
On Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012, College of Law students participated in the 28th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade. The event was presented by the Southwest Orlando Jaycees, a civic organization established to provide leadership opportunities for young men and women. College of Law students wore FAMU paraphernalia and marched from Livingston Street south to Central Boulevard, then north along Rosalind Avenue before returning to the campus.
On Monday, Jan. 16, 2012, College of Law Associate Professor Patricia Broussard organized the “Clean Up Parramore Day,” an annual event held during the MLK Day of Service. College of Law students have participated in the event with Broussard since she initiated the endeavor spring semester 2008. The effort has grown steadily to include various families and groups outside of the College of Law.
The purpose of the event is to provide a revitalization effort for the historic neighborhood adjacent to the College of Law campus. Parramore, established in the 1880’s, is regarded as the historic hub of Orlando’s African-American community. The annual event looks to draw many law students, who are potentially available as classes are not scheduled.
Volunteers assembled at the College of Law front steps as early as 8 a.m. External groups included students from the University of Central Florida, local elementary schools, and Volunteer Orlando’s One Brick Chapter - a non-profit organization that provides support to local non-profit and community groups. College of Law student groups included Black Law Student Association, Hispanic American Law Student Association, American Association for Justice, Student Bar Association and Phi Alpha Delta. FAMU law students not affiliated with student organizations were also among the volunteers.
Following a pre-event pep-talk by Broussard, the volunteers marched through the Parramore neighborhood to the Nap Ford School to receive work assignments. Assignments ranged from painting street furnishings near Church Street, to planting greenery at the College of Law and Nap Ford School. Orange-Osceola State Attorney Candidate Ryan Williams, who volunteered for the event, worked with several law students to shovel dirt and fill mulch areas near Terry Avenue and Central Boulevard. Other volunteers cleaned debris, swept sidewalks and trimmed hedges from Westmoreland Avenue to Hughey Avenue, and streets in between. All safety equipment and supplies were provided by the Downtown Orlando Clean Team.