Advancing Justice Since Day One

Wall Mural at BU LawSince our law school was founded in 1872, many of our graduates have distinguished themselves as public servants working tirelessly to advance justice and as legal pioneers fighting for the rights of the disenfranchised. In honor of a select group of these alumni, we have installed an 11’ x 25’ mural on the second floor of the Redstone building that depicts 11 graduates whose careers personify this theme of advancing justice. This floor-to-ceiling illustration by artist Daniel Hertzberg is located just outside McCausland Commons.

I invite you to visit the law school and see the mural in person. Its vibrant colors reflect the optimistic energy of the law school community and the diversity of the generations of students who have been educated at BU Law. It is also a visible reminder of the efforts of our alumni over the past two centuries to work toward the advancement of justice and equality.

The mural was installed on August 18, less than a week after the tragic events in Charlottesville revealed how much work we still have left to do on this front. I hope that the stories of the alumni pictured in the illustration can provide inspiration for all of us. Some of them include:

Emanuel Hewlett (Class of 1877), the first African American graduate of BU Law stood before the US Supreme Court in 1896 and argued that his client, an African American man charged with murder had received an unfair trial because the state uniformly excluded African Americans from serving on juries. More than a century later, Justice O. Rogeriee Thompson (Class of 1976), the first African American to serve on the US First Circuit Court of Appeals, vigorously dissented in a 2011 case that granted police officers qualified immunity to search all members of a mostly Hispanic visiting soccer team for items allegedly missing from a white home team’s locker room.

Lelia Robinson (Class of 1881), the first woman to graduate from BU Law, was denied admission to the Massachusetts bar because of her gender, but successfully lobbied the state legislature in 1882 to pass a bill authorizing women to take the bar exam and practice law in court. It wasn’t until the 21st century, however, that Massachusetts elected its first female attorney general Martha Coakley (Class of 1979).

The ideals of a free and democratic society require constant effort to maintain. For nearly 150 years, our alumni have been working to advance justice and ensure that all members of our society benefit from the rights enshrined in our US Constitution.

One Comment

Martin Fisher posted on September 19, 2017 at 8:42 am

Interesting article, but I’d love to know about the other seven alumni on the mural.

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