The CUNY School of Law Black Law Students Association (BLSA) held its annual fundraising gala on February 17 at the Vista Sky Lounge & Penthouse in Long Island City. Tickets to the gala were sold-out for a second year in a row and ticket sales alone, raised more than $6,000. Funds raised will provide financial assistance to students engaging in unpaid public interest internships that serve communities of color, particularly black communities.
This year’s gala honored six exemplar attorneys whose daily work earned them praise among the student group members. Among them were CUNY Law’s own Ryan Dooley (’09), assistant director of the Pipeline to Justice program and Professor Pamela Edwards, director of the Center for Diversity in the Legal Profession.
BLSA also honored three CUNY Law alumnae: Lenina Trinidad (‘00), Maribel Martinez-Gunter(‘95), and Rose Morgan (‘88) of Manhattan Legal Services Family and Domestic Violence Unit. The sixth gala honoree was Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
“It is such an honor to be honored by Black Law Students Association” Warren said, “because I – like many black people going into law school – was plagued with doubts about whether I can do it. And once I figured out that I may be able to do it I asked ‘do I belong here?’ And once I figured out that I belong in the community I then had to negotiate my blackness…my everything with the law community. It’s what we do. So, it means so much at this point in my career to have Black Law Students Association – a group that I was involved in back when I was in law school – honor me.”
The BLSA members who organized the gala were: Jasmine Brock (president), Rhondaya Williams (vice-president), Jellisa Grant (Treasurer), Ruby-Beth Buitekant (Secretary), Adama Gidado (Academic Chair), Mikailla Carwin (Social Action Chair), and Juanita Brake-Ivory (Outreach Coordinator). Entertainment during the gala was provided by Lotus Creations, Universal Image, Joan Hill and catering was provided by K’s Cakes n Thangs, John Brown’s Smoke House, NY Deli Catering, Linda’s Rib Cage, and Suede Modern Caribbean Cuisine.
“We want to take this time to say a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who was able to celebrate with us… We feel very privileged and honored to have been part of such an amazing event and sincerely appreciate your continued support,” BLSA members said in a post event statement.