The Black Men’s Initiative @ CLS

This initiative is part of Columbia Law’s Anti-Racism Grantmaking Program.

Founded in 2020, the Black Men’s Initiative @ CLS (BMI@CLS)  cultivates an intentional community among Black men who are, or have studied, at Columbia Law School through a curated series of in-person and virtual events, a robust alumni-student mentorship program, a members’ website, and more.

Past Events

Fall Happy Hour and Mixer (October 19, 2021)
The fall Happy Hour and Mixer was our first in-person event ever. We were happy to bring together students and faculty for hors d'oeuvres, drinks, and fellowship.

Black Male Political Leadership (February 5, 2021)
The political transition gave us the opportunity to have wide-ranging conversations about our role in the national political landscape. We were incredibly privileged to have panelists who are deeply familiar with this topic from the perspective of both executive agencies and electoral politics, including Mozelle W. Thompson ’81 (Former FTC Commissioner); Shavar Jeffries ’99 (Former Newark Mayoral Candidate and CEO of Democrats for Education Reform); and Zaid Zaid ’07 (Former Special Assistant to President Obama and Associate White House Counsel; Member of the Biden Transition Team/Biden Administration).

Transitioning Between the Private and Public Sector (November 12, 2020)
Last fall, we hosted an event on how members can transition between the public and private sectors. Panelists included George Madison ’80 (former General Counsel of the United States Treasury Department) and Peter Harvey ’82 (the first Black Attorney General of New Jersey).

Leadership Team

Damonta Morgan

Damonta D. Morgan ’22

Damonta D. Morgan is originally from Clarksdale, Mississippi, and received his bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Vanderbilt University in 2017. After graduating, he moved to New York City to work as a data analyst at the Department of Education, while also getting a master’s degree in education policy from Teachers College, Columbia University. At Columbia Law School, Morgan has served as co-president of the American Constitution Society, scholarship chair for the Black Law Students Association (BLSA), and staff editor for the Columbia Human Rights Law Review (HRLR). He was twice-elected to the Student Senate. In his free time, Morgan enjoys karaoke, horseback riding, getting involved in his community, and discussions about politics and policy.

Paul Riley, Jr.

Paul Riley, Jr. ’22

Paul Riley hails from Philadelphia. He graduated from Princeton University in 2015, where he concentrated in politics and minored in African American studies. Prior to law school, he spent four years in San Francisco where he most recently worked as a senior legal analyst at Dropbox, Inc. At Columbia Law School, Riley serves as the Student Senate president, as a Richard Paul Richman Leadership Fellow, and as a Writing Center fellow. In his free time, he enjoys working on his podcast (The Riley Rant), practicing flight simulation, and attending music festivals.

Dante Violette

Dante Violette ’22

Dante Violette ‘22 is a native of Detroit, Michigan, and graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 2015 with a B.S. in pPsychology. Continuing his studies at the University of Chicago, he earned a master’s degree in sSocial sService and aAdministration focusing on global social development in 2018. At Columbia Law, VioletteDante is a Public Interest/Public Service Fellow, a student member of Columbia Law School’s Anti-Racism Steering Committee, and a member of Columbia Law’s Black Law Student Association.

Brenton Browne

Brenton Browne ’23

Brenton Browne is from Tyler, Texas. He graduated from the University of North Texas in 2018 where he majored in political science. Prior to law school, he was a paralegal at a small law firm in Dallas. At Columbia Law School, Browne actively participates in many organizations including: Student Senate, Black Law Students Association, Williams Moot Court, First Generation Professionals, and the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law. In his spare time, Browne enjoys trying new restaurants, traveling, working out, and reading.

Alex Hohl

Alex Hohl ’23

Raised outside of Cleveland, Ohio, Alex Hohl graduated from The College of Wooster in 2016 with a degree in urban planning and economics. At Wooster, he played football for two seasons and studied approaches to transit-oriented development during his semester abroad in Copenhagen— research that later became the basis for his senior thesis. After Wooster, Hohl spent two years in Washington, D.C., working in the consulting group at JLL, then two more years in New York working for Google. Hohl was an SEO fellow at Wachtell, Lipton the summer before 1L. This summer, he worked in the corporate department at Paul, Weiss. Hohl enjoys exploring new cities and wandering the neighborhoods of New York, as well as watching NFL football and NBA basketball. Hohl’s favorite place is Martha’s Vineyard.

Roger Tejada

Roger Tejada ’23

Roger Antonio Tejada is a JD-MPA cCandidate from Passaic, New Jersey. He graduated from Bowdoin College as a Questbridge Scholar with a degree in government and legal studies. He, as a Questbridge Scholar, and received his M.A.T., with highest distinction, from Relay Graduate School of Education. At Columbia, he has served as chair of the Interschool Governing Board, Law School representative to the University Senate, and as the treasurer of First Generation Professionals, the Latinx Law Students Association, and the Columbia Law School Democrats. Tejada is a Public Interest/ Public Service Fellow, Racial and Social Justice Fellow, and John Paul Stevens Fellow. Additionally, he is the managing editor of the Columbia Public Policy Review and a staff editor for the Columbia Human Rights Law Review.

Kendall Thomas

Professor Kendall Thomas

Kendall Thomas, Nash Professor of Law, is a scholar of comparative constitutional law and human rights whose teaching and research focus on critical race theory, legal philosophy, feminist legal theory, and law and sexuality. Read his full bio.

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