Seven hundred alumni and guests gathered in Cambridge on September 16-18 to commemorate the 3rd Celebration of Black Alumni at Harvard Law School. With more black lawyers entering the profession than ever before—and more achieving positions of prominence and power, the event, “Struggle and Progress: Leadership in the 21st Century,” focused on the progress that has been made and the barriers that remain.
In an opening address on Friday, Sharon Jones ’82, president of the Harvard Law School Association, told audience members the reunion was designed as “part family reunion, part Renaissance weekend and part TED conference.” She urged participants to use the weekend to seek inspiration for change at the global, national and local levels. “At CBA we expect you to have epiphanies,” said Jones. “Wherever you choose to play, I challenge you to change the world. We owe that to the people on whose shoulders we stand and to those who will come after us.”
In an afternoon address on Saturday, Dean Martha Minow highlighted her key priorities at HLS, including a commitment to strengthening the ties between the legal profession and practice, and promoting diversity. “We are building a faculty who most represent the American people. HLS prepares students for leadership in the real world,” said Minow. “We intend to promote openness to all kinds of diversity including intellectual and ideological diversity.”
Several prominent alums also gave keynote addresses over the three-day event. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick ’82 discussed social reform and the political landscape, while Ken Frazier ’78, president and CEO, Merck & Co., helped kick off the event by providing insight into the meaning and significance of the Celebration of Black Alumni (view video below). Roger Ferguson ’79, president and CEO, TIAA-CREF and former vice chairman of the board of governors, U.S. Federal Reserve System, provided an in-depth view of the current financial landscape.