From our first Black graduate in 1954 through the appointment of our first Black dean in 2020, Black History at W&M Law recognizes and celebrates the pivotal moments in Black history at William & Mary Law School. While the exhibit is not an exhaustive exploration of Black history at the Law School, it represents many of the important milestones in our School’s journey towards equity and inclusion.
The online exhibit reflects and expands upon the physical exhibit Black History at W&M Law on display in the Law School lobby during the spring semester of 2021. The books displayed and listed in the online exhibit are available in e-book format and may be borrowed by members of the William & Mary community. For photographs of the physical exhibit, see the album in Flickr.
Note: the images and articles below reflect the time periods from which they come. Some article titles may include outdated terminology or insensitive language.
Black Law Students Association
Photograph of Myron McClees, 2009/10 BLSA President and Latoya Asia, 2008/09 BLSA President. In 2009, the W.C. Jefferson Chapter of the National Black Law Students Association at William & Mary Law School is recognized as the National Chapter of the Year.
Jaime K. Welch-Donahue
Article posted on the William & Mary Law School website on April 7, 2009 announcing the 2009 National Chapter of the Year Award presented to the William & Mary Law School BLSA Chapter.
Jonathan A. Peterson
Article from the January 20, 2012 issue of Not Wythe Standing: The News (v.3:no.5) highlighting the activities of BLSA during the 2011/2012 academic year .
William & Mary Law School
Photograph of the 2014 African-American Reunion Celebration poster. In 2014, the Law School celebrated the 60th anniversary of Edward A. Travis breaking the color barrier by graduating from William & Mary Law School and initiating 60 years of Black students at WMLS. Two videos were created to mark the event: 60 Years of African-American Students at William & Mary Law School and African-American Reunion Celebration, as well as an online photo gallery.
William & Mary Law School
Schedule of Events for the African American Alumni Celebration held February 21-22, 2014. The two-day event honored sixty years of Black students and faculty beginning when Edward A. Travis, the first Black graduate of William & Mary Law School, received his law degree in 1954.
Arrion N. Dennis
Photograph of Arrion N. Dennis. In 2014, Dennis becomes the first Black Editor-In-Chief of one of the journals at William & Mary Law School when she is elected to lead The Bill of Rights Journal for vol.23 (2014/2015).
David F. Morrill
Article posted to the William & Mary Law School website on April 25, 2017 describing the tree-planting ceremony held in honor of Sharon Coles-Stewart who passed away in July 2016. Ms. Coles-Stewart graduated from the Law School in 1975 - the first Black female graduate in the school's history. The memorial tree was planted in recognition of this achievement.
Laura N. Shepherd
Photograph of Laura N. Shepherd. When Shepherd joins the Law School administration in 2018 as Associate Dean for Student and Academic Services, she becomes the first Black Associate Dean to serve in the William & Mary Law School Administration.
David F. Morrill
Article posted to the William & Mary Law School website on March 6, 2018 describing the unveiling of the Edward A. Travis portrait at the law school on February 23, 2018. Travis graduated from WMLS in 1954, the first Black law graduate and the first Black with any degree at William & Mary.
Photograph of Dexter Smith. The appointment of Smith as Associate Dean of Admissions marks the first time a Black man holds the title of Associate Dean at William & Mary Law School.
A. Benjamin Spencer
Photograph of A. Benjamin Spencer. Dean Spencer takes leadership of the WMLS in July 2020, becoming the first Black dean at America's oldest law school. His appointment also makes him the first Black dean of any school at William & Mary.
William & Mary Law School
Article from May 18, 2020 posted on the William & Mary Law School website, announcing the appointment of A. Benjamin Spencer as the school's dean.
Vivian E. Hamilton
Article created for this exhibit chronicling the thwarted attempt to hire JeRoyd X. Greene/Sa'ad El Amin as a visiting professor in 1974.
Law School Equity & Inclusion Exhibits Committee
The following books were displayed with the physical exhibition of Black History at W&M Law. Links are to the W&M Libraries catalog. All books are held in print by the Wolf Law Library. Most books are also available in e-book format and may be borrowed by members of the William & Mary community.
After the Dream: Black and White Southerners Since 1965 by Timothy J. Minchin. (Lexington, Ky: University Press of Kentucky, c2011).
Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Y. Davis. (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2003).
Blinded by the Whites: Why Race Still Matters in 21st-Century America by David Ikard. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013).
Concordance: Black Lawmaking in the U.S. Congress from Carter to Obama by Katherine Tate. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2014).
Daisy Turner's Kin: An African American Family Saga by Jane C. Beck. (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2015).
Desert Rose: The Life and Legacy of Coretta Scott King by Edythe Scott Bagley. (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, c2012).
The Dream Is Lost: Voting Rights and the Politics of Race in Richmond, Virginia by Julian Maxwell Hayter. (Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 2017).
Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present: From the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-First Century edited by Paul Finkleman. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).
Fighting for Democracy: Black Veterans and the Struggle Against White Supremacy in the Postwar South by Christopher S. Parker. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009).
Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Y. Davis. (Chicago, Illinois: Haymarket Books, 2016).
Heavy by Kiese Laymon. (New York, NY: Scribner, 2018).
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. (New York: One World, 2019).
Julius Chambers: A Life in the Legal Struggle for Civil Rights by Richard A. Rosen and Joseph Mosnier. (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2016).
The Magnificent Mays: A Biography of Benjamin Elijah Mays by John Herbert Roper, Sr. (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, c2012).
Revolutionaries to Race Leaders: Black Power and the Making of African American Politics by Cedric Johnson. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, c2007).
Right to Ride: Streetcar Boycotts and African American Citizenship in the Era of Plessy v. Ferguson by Blair L.M. Kelley. (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2010).
Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde. (Berkeley: Crossing Press), 2007.
So You Want to Talk About Race by Iljeoma Oluo. (New York, NY: Seal Press, Hachette Book Group, 2019).
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi. (New York: Nation Books, 2016).
Thurgood Marshall: Race, Rights, and the Struggle for a More Perfect Union by Charles L. Zelden. (New York, NY: Routledge, 2013).
A Voice that Could Stir an Army: Fannie Lou Hamer and the Rhetoric of the Black Freedom Movement by Maegan Parker Brooks. (Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, 2014).
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. (New York: One World, 2019).
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? and Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum. (New York: Basic Books, 1997; 2003).