Esmeralda Simmons – founder and executive director of the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College, CUNY – was featured in The New York Amsterdam News’ “Black New Yorkers” column in recognition of her esteemed legal career and unflagging fight for social justice.
The Center for Law and Social Justice advocates and assists the African-American community on issues such as voter rights, immigration, and racial and social matters, as well as tackling issues of land use, criminal justice, police brutality, and women of color.
Simmons is an attorney who was guided into law by African Studies intellectual giant Dr. John Henrik Clarke and has been fighting for social justice causes since the 1970s. She has focused on racial justice issues through much of her career. She served as first deputy commissioner for human rights for New York State; chair of the Environmental Justice Brain Trust for the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus; as a member on the NYC Board of Education at the request of Mayor David Dinkins; and argued a case before the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in her position as a New York State assistant attorney.
A Brooklyn native whose parents emigrated from St. Croix, Simmons’ work through the Center is in keeping with College’s mission to meet the educational and social needs of the Central Brooklyn Community.
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Medgar Evers College was founded in 1969 through the efforts from educators and community leaders in central Brooklyn. The College is named after Medgar Wiley Evers, a Mississippi-born black civil rights activist who was assassinated on June 12, 1963. The College is divided into four schools: The School of Business; The School of Professional and Community Development; The School of Liberal Arts and Education; and The School of Science, Health, and Technology. Through these Schools, the College offers 29 associate and baccalaureate degree programs, as well as certificate programs in fields such as English, Nursing, and Accounting. Medgar Evers College also operates several co-curricular and external programs and associated centers such as the Male Development and Empowerment Center, the Center for Women’s Development, the Center for Black Literature, and The DuBois Bunche Center for Public Policy.