Denise Carty-Bennia Memorial Bar Award
The Denise Carty-Bennia Memorial Bar Award is an endowment for bar-related expenses, which is presented to four third-year students of color who have submitted the best essays on a topic selected by the NUSL Alumni Associate Board of Directors Alumni/ae of Color Committee. The Award amount ranges from $600 to $1000. The essay is generally three to five pages long and it is based on Professor Carty-Bennia's objective to expand opportunities for people of color. The winning third-years are honored for writing the most thorough, coherent and overall well-written essay in mid May at the Award ceremony. Each recipient is honored by having excerpts of his/her essay read before the invitees, which includes NUSL faculty and administration, all potential recipients and also a keynote speaker.
Denise Carty-Bennia was a member of Northeastern University School of Law's faculty for thirteen years, prior to her passing on September 11, 1990. Professor Carty-Bennia joined the faculty following positions at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, Michigan, and with a New York City law firm. Professor Carty-Bennia was a highly successful attorney and a tireless educator, advisor, mentor, and friend to countless Northeastern law students. Professor Carty-Bennia's curriculum vitae was nothing short of inspiring.
Professor Carty-Bennia was a 1969 graduate of Barnard College and received her Juris Doctor from Columbia University in 1973. She was the author of several widely disseminated amicus briefs filed before the United States Supreme Court. Professor Carty-Bennia co-authored a brief submitted to the Supreme Court in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 109 S. Ct. 3040 (1989). Written on behalf of 900 law faculty nationwide, the brief was cited by Justice Harry Blackmun in his written dissent. Id. at 3076, n. 9. Professor Carty-Bennia had also testified before various Congressional subcommittees on topics such as racially motivated violence, and sex and race differences on standardized tests.
In 1985, Professor Carty-Bennia co-founded and served as chair of the Board of Directors of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FAIRTEST). She served as co-chair of the Board of Directors of the National Conference of Black Lawyers from 1979-81 and as the chair of the section on Minority Groups of the Association of American Law Schools from 1982-83. She was co-founder and steering committee member of the Northeastern University Black Faculty Organization.
Professor Carty-Bennia received many honors for her work in legal education, including the Distinguished Service in Legal Education from the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association, and an official citation for Outstanding Distinction in the Field of Legal Education from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts State Senate. She was the 1988 recipient of an award for Outstanding Commitment and Social Responsibility to the Community from WRBB-Radio, Northeastern University. Professor Carty-Bennia was an invaluable resource to students from all walks of life. She was particularly instrumental in supporting the academic achievement of BLSA students and she also actively promoted the interests of our BLSA chapter within the administration before her untimely death. A photo of Professor Carty-Bennia hangs across from her former office, room 81 Cargill. Revered by NUSL through this event, Professor Carty-Bennia remains a pillar of NUSL-BLSA.
Honorable Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland Leadership and Juvenile Advocacy Award
The Honorable Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland Leadership and Juvenile Advocacy Award seeks to support the development of students who, like Chief Justice Ireland, have exhibited a commitment to developing strong leadership skills and a passion for juvenile advocacy. In his honor, this award is aimed at law school students of color who have demonstrated a commitment to juvenile advocacy in a variety of ways and who have demonstrated leadership abilities. The recipient will exhibit more than academic ability, but also will possess the very qualities that make Chief Justice Ireland such an asset to the legal profession: intellect, leadership, compassion, and dedication to juvenile rights.
Past Winners of the Honorable Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland Leadership and Juvenile Advocacy Award:
2015: Gabrielle Pingue '15
Massachusetts Black Judges Conference
Each year, the Massachusetts Black Judges Conference presents a book award to nine Massachusetts Black law students. Students are nominated based on academic achievement, leadership qualities, potential trial skills, and need. The Book Award Committee selects the winners from a list of nominees. The award, a stipend for textbooks, is awarded to the selected winners at an Award Ceremony. The Ceremony is attended by judges, award recipient students and their family and friends. The Ceremony is also an excellent opportunity for the Kemet winner to network with the Black judges that preside over the Massachusetts Courts.
Past Winners of the Massachusetts Black Judges Conference Book Award2015: Marsophia Ducheine '16
2012: Mia T. Jackson '13
2006: Amanda Ward '06
Spirit of Valerie Gordon
About Valerie Gordon
Valerie Gordon, a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law's Class of 1993, was an important member of the Law School's community. Her background in journalism set her apart from her classmates. An outspoken and active member of the Third World Coalition, Valerie Gordon helped keep pressure on NUSL to increase diversity in student enrollment and faculty hiring. In addition, Valerie Gordon was active in the fight for international, domestic and local human rights. Shortly after graduation and the delivery of her first and only child, Valerie Gordon passed away. After her untimely death, Valerie's family received notice that she had passed the Massachusetts Bar Exam, which she took during the end of her pregnancy. Subsequently, the Office of the Dean, with the support of then Dean David Hall, decided to offer a book award of $500 in Valerie Gordon's honor each year.
Valerie Gordon's spirit launched the Valerie Gordon Human Rights Lecture, which is held in the Spring and has hosted distinguished speakers who have contributed to the advancement of human rights both internationally and domestically. Past speakers have included Randall Robinson of TransAfrica; Judge Nathaniel Jones; Ambassador Dessima Williams; Professors Charles Ogletree; Adrien Wing; Makau Mutua; South African Constitutional Court of Justice Albie Sachs; Jaribu Hill, executive director and founder of the Mississippi Workers Center for Human Rights; Carol Anderson, associate professor of history at the University of Missouri and writer of Eyes Off the Prize: The United Nations and the African American Struggle for Human Rights; Harold Koh, Dean of Yale Law school; and Gay McDougall.
Valerie Gordon's presence is recalled with the warmest of regards and the utmost gratitude. Her contributions to NUSL have paved the way for present and incoming classes of Black law students. Valerie Gordon's spirit lives within the halls of NUSL, and in the hearts of BLSA.
Past Winners of the Valerie Gordon Book Award
2021: Princess Diaz ’23
2020: Bianca Pickering ’22
2019: Jasmine Brown ’21
2018: “Angela Davis: A South African Moment for Palestine,” by Hakeem M. Muhammad ’20.
2017: “Black Lives Matter in Every Town: An Argument for Scaling Up Existing Reconciliatory Practices in the United States,” by Siri Nelson ’19.
2015: “Solitary Confinement: A Human Rights Violation and Instrument of Torture” by Tara Dunn ’17.
2014: "An Emerging Reparations Movement: African American Women in Leadership and Litigation," by Quinn Kareem Rallins ’17.
2010: Winning Essay written by Bomopregha Julius ’13.
2009: “Atoning a Fundamental Wrong: The United States' Denial of Education as a Human Right and its Undue Burdens on the Black Community,” by Rashida Richardson ’11.
2008: “Explore the Tulsa Riot of 1921 in Greenwood Oklahoma,” by Dana Luke ’10.
2007: “Explore the armed forces current recruitment strategies, emboldened by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, in a human rights as well as civil rights context, incorporating arguments as they relate to the Black community,” by Janeen Blake ’09.
2006: “Explore the human rights implications of Hurricane Katrina Winning Essay,” by Kaleema Nur ’08.
2005: Winning Essay written by Melanie Nesbitt ’07.
2004: “Given the recent Bollinger decisions, is Affirmative Action still a relevant legal issue for African American lawyers? If so, what is the best argument for Affirmative Action?,” by Michelle Fleming ’06.