Law Day 2014 Outstanding Activity Award Winners

Law Day 2014 Dream Team
The collaboration of 14 legal and civil rights organizations, enabled wide-spread Law Day participation throughout the state of Georgia. More than 250 high school students from 11 Atlanta Public Schools participated in Youth Talk with voting exercises including a mock election, voter registration drive, voting trivia and even the process of undergoing a literacy test. Students from Savannah and Tifton (a town nearly 200 miles away), joined Atlanta students via video conference, to hear from a civil rights activist on the importance of the right to vote. In an effort to also engage adults within the community, the Dream Team hosted a public program and CLE on voting rights history, the challenges of maintaining a democracy, and perspectives on voting rights and enforcement. Participants included the Secretary of State, State’s Attorney, and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient. The Dream Team partners are: Atlanta Bar Association, Atlanta Public Schools, Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism, Fulton County Superior Court, Gate City Bar Association, Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association, Georgia Association for Women Lawyers, Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys, Georgia Hispanic Bar Association, Multi-Bar Leadership Council, National Center for Civil & Human Rights, South Asian Bar Association of Georgia, State Bar or Georgia, and Stonewall Bar Association.

Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse
Through extensive Law Day outreach, the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse in St. Louis, Missouri engaged over 5,000 people. To garner support for Law Day 2014, a voting fact sheet and call to volunteer was distributed to hundreds of court employees, resulting in participation from the Judiciary and Department of Justice. They visited 35 classrooms in two underserved school districts, creating and teaching lessons for nearly 900 elementary, middle and high school students. Court volunteers gave each of the classes in the two districts a book about Freedom Summer and supplies for their Law Day art contests. A curriculum resource packet was crafted and given to each participating teacher in the partner schools, as well as emailed to hundreds of teachers via the state social studies list-serve. A copy of the resource packet was also made available online and given to all schools that toured the courthouse. On Law Day, May 1, the classes visited the courthouse, which had a floor dedicated to voting rights, including the Freedom Summer traveling exhibit. On May 6, a public program was held in conjunction with the traveling exhibit and CLE credit was offered. The following day, the traveling exhibit moved to an area high school, where court volunteers held a program on non-violent voter activism in conjunction with the school’s peace rally.

Baton Rouge Bar Foundation
Having a positive and lasting impact on the community throughout the year, beyond Law Day, is a strength of the Baton Rouge Bar Foundation. Earlier in the year, select students from two area elementary schools were inducted as new members to the Bar Foundation’s Junior Partners Academy (JPA), which educates young people interested in law and pairs them with bar member mentors. During Law Day, 185 JPA students participated in mock trials, as well as planned and executed JPA presidential campaigns. Students identified candidates, crafted speeches, created campaign posters and commercials and finally held school wide elections. Volunteer Bar Foundation members and law students made classroom presentations to over 800 elementary, middle and high school students about voting. To make the importance of voting relevant to students, they imposed a hypothetical new law on the schools citing that it was illegal to listen to Pit Bull, Jay-Z and other contemporary music artists. The only way to reverse the law was by casting their vote. The music ban exercise introduced a discussion about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. With support from the Louisiana Secretary of State, students participated in a mock election that focused on whether or not felons should have the right to vote. The Bar Foundation’s Pro Bono Project hosted 20 outreach clinics in May for over 250 citizens, offering a range of legal assistance. A CLE credit seminar was also conducted, as well as more traditional activities such as naturalization ceremonies and poster and essay contests for the schools.

Honorable Mention

Hialeah Gardens Middle School
This honorable mention commends the efforts of a dedicated Law Studies middle school teacher in Florida, who without the assistance of a bar association partner or court program affiliate, conducted Law Day activities for her students. She focused her lessons on constitutional amendments that addressed voting rights and eligibility, as well as engaged students in research about voter suppression throughout American history. After engaging in classroom curriculum about voting, the students were then assigned to inform their peers about their findings. They set up a voting scenario for the school and drafted petitions about equal voting rights. The classes also made an archway at the entrance to the voting area that read Rule of Law. As their classmates walked beneath the arch to vote, they told their peers that walking under the Rule of Law arch symbolized that no one is above the law and that we all have to obey the same set of rules.

The award finalists showed excellence in their programming and deserve acknowledgement and recognition.

The Law Day 2014 Outstanding Activity Award finalists are as follows:

  • Guam Bar Association, Judiciary of Guam and District Court of Guam
  • Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
  • Louisiana Circuit Court of Appeal, Fourth Circuit
  • Luke Air Force Base, Staff Judge Advocate
  • Long Beach Branch NAACP
  • U.S. Air Force, Davis-Monthan AFB