AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
"A lawyer is either a social engineer or [a] parasite [on society,]" said the fabled attorney and legendary Dean of Howard University Law School Charles Hamilton Houston, also known as the man who killed Jim Crow. (1) According to Houston, "[a] good social engineer ... was a lawyer who used [his or her] knowledge of the law to better the lot of the nation's worst-off citizens." (2) This is the departure point from which this Article examines the role of Historically Black College and University ("HBCU") (3) law schools in the current era. (4)
Various universities, institutes, organizations, and academicians have recently released data that confirms that African-Americans are disproportionately suffering in American society, and it is getting worse. Collectively, African-Americans languish at the bottom of almost every major quality of life index. Incarceration, unemployment, abortion, homelessness, housing foreclosures, divorce, and lack of adequate health care are but a few of the negative indices that are at extremely high levels in the African-American community. Additionally, graduation rates, income, wealth, birthrates, and two-parent households are a few of the positive indices that are at extremely low levels. African-Americans are in such dire straights that, statistically speaking, we fit the criteria of what Charles Hamilton Houston referred to as the "nation's worst-off citizens." (5)
In direct contrast to the actual data, public opinion polls reveal that African-Americans believe that we are doing better than we were five or ten years ago--better than our parents, grand-parents, and great-grand parents. Collectively, African-Americans believe that our quality of life in America is improving. As discussed in detail below, such beliefs are the exact opposite of reality. Thus, if there is another group of citizens that is doing "worse-off' than African-Americans, at least those citizens are collectively aware of their dire straits.
To absolve HBCU law schools from any responsibility for changing this current state of affairs would negate Charles Hamilton Houston's charge that lawyers be social engineers. (6) Thus, HBCU law schools have a special role to play and duty to satisfy in generating multitudes of lawyers that are skilled at creating social change for the benefit of African-Americans, and thus, by extension, America, Africa, the African-Diaspora, and the entire world.
Since their founding in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, HBCU law schools have been producing lawyers, culminating today in a historic, or near-historic, number of African-American lawyers that have earned their Juris Doctor degrees from HBCU law schools. We must celebrate and support HBCU law school administrators, faculty, staff, alumni, and students for their achievements and continued existence. This is especially important because HBCU law schools (and HBCUs in general) have operated with constant opposition and threats to their existence. (7) They have not been afforded the luxuries, resources, and advantages that Historically White College and University ("HWCU") law schools take for granted. (8)
Among the accomplishments of HBCU law schools is that they consistently produce class after class of highly-skilled lawyers. (9) Also, HBCU law schools have produced some truly exceptional social engineers that have worked for the betterment of the African-American community. (10) Nevertheless, the dismal social science data referenced above and provided in detail below, on some level, is an indictment of HBCU law schools in as much as they have not produced enough lawyers that have successfully generated social justice and change for the betterment of the African-American community. (11) We cannot allow this to continue into the twenty-first century. Despite the numerous and varied challenges they face, HBCU law schools can produce more effective social engineers with each graduating class, and this Article proposes a step HBCUs should take towards that goal.
Part I of this Article provides background on HBCU law schools. Part II of this Article provides current social science data on the state of African-Americans. Part III provides a recommendation and framework for HBCU law schools to adopt in order to generate a multitude of effective social engineers working to improve the state of African-American citizens and all citizens in that order. (12)
II. DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS
A HBCU Law Schools: Special Institutions--Special Missions
The first HBCU law school was founded in 1869. (13) Since that time, several HBCU Law Schools have been established to provide educational opportunities to African-Americans. Currently, there are six HBCU Law Schools: Howard University School of Law (established in 1869); North Carolina Central School of Law (established in 1939); Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law (established in 1947, as a result of Sweatt v. Painter (14)); Southern University Law Center (established in 1947); Florida A&M School of Law (established in 1949); and the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law (formerly Antioch, established in 1972, and merged with the University of the District of Columbia, which was recognized as an HBCU in I999). (15)
1. HBCU Law Schools Providing Legal Education to African-Americans
HBCU law schools are consistently among the top law schools in the country that provide legal educational opportunities to African-Americans. (16) Currently, Florida A&M University College of Law has 249 African-American students. (17) Howard University School of Law has 366 African-American students. (18) North Carolina Central University School of Law has 293 African-American students. (19) Southern University Law Center has 351 African-American students. (20) Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law has 272 African-American students. (21) University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law has 86 African-American students. (22) Since the dawn of the twenty-first century, HBCU law schools collectively have produced approximately 1600 African-American law school graduates each year. (23)
As illustrated in the following pie charts, among these institutions African-Americans constitute a high of approximately seventy-five percent of the total student body, to a low of approximately thirty percent of the student body.
As reflected in Tables A through C, ABA 2008 data establishes that HBCU law schools are firmly entrenched among the leaders that provide legal education to African-Americans:
Table A. 2008 Top Schools for African-Americans (total number) (24) THOMAS M. COOLEY LAW SCHOOL 389 TEXAS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY THURGOOD MARSHALL SCHOOL OF LAW 327 HOWARD UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW 322 SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY LAW CENTER 267 UNIVERSITY OF SAINT THOMAS SCHOOL OF LAW 255 NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW 242 HARVARD LAW SCHOOL 190 GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY LAW CENTER 189 GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL 146 NEW YORK UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW 124 Table B. 2008 Top Schools for African-American Men (total number) (25) TEXAS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY THURGOOD MARSHALL SCHOOL OF LAW 128 HOWARD UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW 123 THOMAS M. COOLEY LAW SCHOOL 101 SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY LAW CENTER 97 FLORIDA A&M UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW 88 HARVARD LAW SCHOOL 82 NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW 74 RUTGERS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW-NEWARK 66 GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY LAW CENTER 62 GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL 56 Table C. 2008 Top Schools for African-American Women (total number) (26) THOMAS M. COOLEY LAW SCHOOL 288 TEXAS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY THURGOOD MARSHALL SCHOOL OF LAW 199 HOWARD UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW 199 SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY LAW CENTER 170 NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW 168 FLORIDA A&M UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW 167 GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY LAW CENTER 127 HARVARD LAW SCHOOL 108 GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL 90 UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND SCHOOL OF LAW 89
Historically, HBCU law schools have graduated upwards of ninety percent of African-American law school graduates. (27) Today, that percentage has dropped, but HBCU law schools still play a leading role in producing African-American law school graduates. (28)
Additionally, HBCU law schools are far ahead of HWCU law schools in employing African-American administrators, faculty, and staff. For example, each HBCU law school has a minority or woman as Dean. (29) As illustrated in Table D, HBCU law schools have high rates of employment of minority faculty: (30)
Table D. 2010 & 2011 Percentages of Minority Faculty FALL 2010 FALL 2011 AVERAGE FLORIDA A&M 71.90% 65.90% 68.90% HOWARD 76.00% 83.90% 79.95% NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL 63.60% 62.90% 63.25% SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY LAW CLNTER 60.00% 60.00% 60.00% TEXAS SOUTHERN LAW CENTER 82.10% 77.10% 79.60% UDC DAVID A. CLARK SCHOOL OF LAW 50.00% 44.00% 47.00%
As a result of the composition of their student bodies, faculties, and administrations, HBCU law schools are strategically positioned to successfully provide the type of legal education that can generate multitudes of effective social engineers working for the betterment of the …