For the first time in its history, the Harvard Law School (HLS) held a reunion for its black graduates this weekend.
Nearly 600 black alumni--one third of living graduates--traveled from as far away as Europe and the Caribbean to attend. Alumni were present from every U.S. state.
"It is the first conference of its kind," said reunion chairperson David B. Wilkins '77, who is Kirkland and Ellis professor of law. "The alumni were invited by the school, not by the BLSA (Black Law Students Association)."
According to Wilkins, the BLSA reunions attract mostly recent graduates. This year, what he called "very generous" funding by both HLS and the University allowed for a more all-encompassing reunion.
Because black students long struggled to gain access to legal education at top schools--and were to subject to racism and prejudice once there--one of the main objectives of the reunion was to celebrate the legacy of "diversity and inclusion," Wilkins said.
Although HLS was their stepping stone to successful careers, several alumni said they were uncomfortable coming back to a place that had not always welcomed them with open arms.
"Many of the alumni made a long emotional journey," Wilkins said. "For many of the graduates, HLS was not a pleasant memory. Many have not been back since they graduated."
Wilkins said he felt the complications that came with being a black student.
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