Paul Robeson ’23 is one of Columbia Law School's most notable and respected alumni who dedicated his life to excellence in scholarship, civil rights, athletics, and the performing arts. Each year, we (CLS Black Law Student Association) host a conference in his name featuring panel discussions on the most pressing issues facing our members, communities, and society.
This year, we will have 4 panels addressing the needs of the surrounding community; they will be on Mental Health, Disenfranchisement, Public School Education, and Entrepreneurship. On a higher level, we plan to center the conference on how people have resisted before us, and on how they have turned obstacles into solutions, in order to solidify our plan for community empowerment and actualization.
Specifically, our theme for this year is The Way Forward: Living in Power. We came up with this theme in the wake of different incidents of police brutality. Whenever those events occur, the black community rises and comes together, and then goes back to whatever the status quo is once media coverage stops/the topic is deemed 'explored'. This got us thinking about how whenever someone dies in our community, we say 'Rest in Power'. Rather than having our deepest, most productive and most nuanced revelations and periods of action occur in the spaces and structures surrounding black death, we wanted to do the same concerning black life, alternately celebrating, critiquing and prioritizing black life. We wanted to begin scratching at the surface of what it means to live in power, and not just rest in it.