LSC Black History Month
On February 7, 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson organized Negro History Week, which was expanded in the 1960s to Black History Month. He believed that “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.” Dr. Woodson believed Blacks should be proud of their heritage and other Americans should also understand it.
The Legal Services Corporation has embraced this challenge, annually sponsoring events that afford staff the opportunity to broaden their awareness and appreciation of the contributions of Blacks in America. The mission of the Legal Services Corporation is to promote equal access to justice in our Nation and to provide high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income persons. By working with other organizations that we consider our partners, our goal is to make the judicial process available to everyone who is in need.
Achieving our goal requires increasing the public’s awareness of legal rights, remedies and organizations that are available to provide legal assistance. Black History Month is an opportunity to promote that goal.
LSC’s Black History Month observance includes the “Partnering for the Future” project, which focuses on creating opportunities to encourage, strengthen and inspire young people who may feel that success is beyond their reach. Since 2006, LSC has partnered with local schools in D.C. and Maryland, including Thomas Johnson Middle School in Lanham, Maryland, Annapolis Road Academy Alternative High School in Bladensburg, Maryland, and the César Chávez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy in Washington, DC.
In 2016, LSC will continue its partnership with the César Chávez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy. In addition, we are pleased to have Ballou STAY High School, Ballou High School, and The SEED School of Washington, D.C., a Public Charter School, as new partners this year. The goal of the project is to educate youth about the variety of careers that support the equal justice mission and delivery system. Additionally, it has afforded LSC the opportunity to model leadership and mentoring development in the community.
The project has included several panel presentations by LSC staff at the schools that focused on career and life-building skills. In 2009, LSC partnered with the American Bar Association Commission on Youth at Risk for a panel presentation focusing on youth and the law. In addition, the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau, an LSC grantee, participated in the project with a focus on the work of legal services that impact and support youth.
In previous years, students participated in an LSC-sponsored essay challenge focused on the annual Black History Month theme. The essay winners received recognition by LSC at the LSC Black History Month Program and one student was selected to present their essay orally.
In 2014, the student challenge was expanded to allow students to participate in a variety of mediums – essay, short story, poetry, art, video and music.
The 2015 Black History Month Partnering for the Future Student Challenge winners were students from Perry Street Preparatory Public Charter School.:
In addition, students attending the LSC Black History Month program have the opportunity to meet prominent African American leaders who participate as keynote speakers. Past keynote speakers include: Congressman John Lewis, Congressman Artur Davis, Congressman John Conyers, Maryland Chief Judge Robert Bell, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, and most recently, Kim M. Keenan, General Counsel of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Marian Wright Edelman, President of the Children’s Defense Fund.
The “Partnering for the Future” project has had a positive impact on the students involved by allowing them to envision greater possibilities for their lives, and it has been a wonderful opportunity for the LSC staff to give back to the community that it serves.
Black History Month 2016 Student Challenge
This year, the Legal Services Corporation Black History Month Student Challenge theme is “I Have a Dream, Too: Overcome & Achieve”. Please see the links above for detailed information on the Black History Month Student Challenge.