By Randy Muldrow
TJSL's CLIMB (Crawford Legal Institute Mentorship Bond) received the 2013 State Bar of California Education Pipeline Award at the State Bar Annual Meeting Diversity Awards Reception. The reception took place at the Marriott Hotel in San Jose, California on October 12, 2013. The CLIMB program is a partnership between students and faculty at Thomas Jefferson School of Law (TJSL) and Crawford High School. The program provides mentorship in law, leadership, advocacy skills, tutoring, career counseling and achieving academic success.
The Board of Governors established the State Bar Diversity Awards to recognize outstanding efforts and significant contributions ensuring equal opportunity for entry and advancement in California’s legal profession. The Education Pipeline Awards was created to acknowledge an education program that raises student awareness about the legal system and opportunities for careers in the legal field.
Dr. Clarence B. Jones, who assisted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with writing his “I Have a Dream” speech, was the keynote speaker at the Awards Reception. He is currently a visiting Professor, University of San Francisco and a Scholar Writer in Residence, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research & Education Institute, Stanford University, and Palo Alto, CA.
CLIMB Co-Founder and TJSL Professor Maurice Dyson and CLIMB Administrative Lead Sylvia Ehiemenonye attended the event and received the award on behalf of the CLIMB program. “CLIMB was very honored to receive the State Bar Award.” said Sylvia Ehiemenonye.
“It was inspiring to hear Clarence B. Jones, Martin Luther King Jr's speechwriter, political advisor and friend speak about King and the legacy he left.” said Professor Dyson. “He reminded us that despite all of our merit, it would all be for naught as we inherit a debt of sacrifice and service in King's legacy. As Mr. Jones observed, “Except for Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, Martin Luther King, Jr., in 12 years and 4 months from 1956 to 1968, did more to achieve political, economic, and social justice in America than any other event or person in the previous 400 years.” It is that proud legacy King left that made possible the appointment of Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye as the 28th chief justice of the State of California whom I also had the honor to meet at the awards ceremony who remains the first Asian-Filipina American and the second woman to serve as the state’s chief justice.”
“It is also in that profound service of King that I find my own improbable life story to success possible and I am most proud to see TJSL's CLIMB program through its law student volunteers take up that torch to pass on to Crawford high school students the blessings and liberties of equal opportunity. A just, humane, compassionate society where lawyers can work to achieve meaningful opportunities for those bullied, serving as a voice for the voiceless and creating access to students seeking higher education and the sacrosanct privilege and responsibilities of a legal education is an important vision that CLIMB aspires to achieve.”
“There is no greater reward nor a more awesome responsibility to see how you as a TJSL law student can make a difference in the life of these young adults knowing you are personally involved in passing on King's torch to these curious young teens. Our TJSL student volunteers feel that. In the process of volunteering, they too become transformed. They begin to see, feel and experience for themselves the deeper sense of soul fulfillment when they serve a purpose greater than their own lives, a cause larger than their own, and in so doing they become interwoven in the fabric of a proud legacy they too can claim as the rightful heirs of the great Dream that King inspired. I am proud to see TJSL continue to be a school of opportunity and CLIMB as the inextricable part of achieving that mission for future generations. The recognition of this award I hope will shed further light on what TJSL and CLIMB can prove is possible and I hope it inspires many of you to join and others to follow.”
Professor Bill Slomanson praised CLIMB students for their hard work and congratulated them for receiving the State Bar Award.
“Our CLIMB students have embraced the gift that comes with serving others, in ways that have ably served themselves and the broader community. So it is fitting that the State Bar of California has recognized these tireless student volunteers, who have done so much to make us all proud.” said Professor Slomanson.
“It is with great pleasure and humility that I commend both past and present members of the CLIMB organization. It is my hope that they each bask in the pride that TJSL has enjoyed because of the State Bar’s recognition of CLIMB; savor each day at TJSL with a sense of accomplishment; and pay forward the debt they owe to the young men and women of Crawford High School—who made it possible for CLIMB members to also pay back to so many children of color.”
“Congratulations for a job well done. Each of you has exemplified the highest standards of California’s legal and educational communities. We expect to see your names on the many professional marquees that await this talented and devoted group of future leaders.”