By: Adner Marcelin
Staff Writer, Lansing
Lansing, MI – The Honorable Judge Hugh Clarke spoke to students today as part of the Black Law Students Association’s Black History Month program. Clarke, a 54-A District Judge in Lansing, Michigan as well as the founder of the Black Law Student Association at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, spoke on the topic “Reaching Back, Moving Forward”.
Clarke shared his experiences of how the law school’s founder, the Hon. Thomas E. Brennan, approached him as he worked as a parking lot attendant to start an organization on the law school’s campus that would focus on increasing and maintaining the current enrollment of African-American students at the school. Clarke then shared his struggles of how it was difficult starting and leading a student organization, where at times many chose not to be a part. He offered wise words to student leaders and charged members in attendance to always find ways to give back to those students coming behind us.
From his experiences as a judge, Clarke also spoke to students about the importance of being prepared when appearing in court. He warned students of the dangers of being an attorney with a reputation in the community for being unprepared and stressed how he does not tolerate that kind of behavior in his courtroom. Clarke told students, “I spoke to a local prosecutor one evening as a fancy reception and I told him, sometimes I desire to step off the bench and go back to trying a few criminal defense cases. He then jokingly asked, why I wanted to create such problems for him jokingly.” Clarke used this humorous moment to remind students that competence and preparedness will develop a long-lasting reputation that can sustain students throughout their careers.
Rose Olaniyi, the president of BLSA, said, “this is just one of many great that we (BLSA) hosted this month for our students. It is important that we recognize and celebrate the achievements of those who came before us, so that we can learn how to continue to pave the way for those who will come behind us.”
For more information on the Black Law Student Association, visit their website on the Cooley Portal.
Top left image-Hon. Judge Hugh Clarke speaking to BLSA Students at the Black History Lecture, "Reaching Back, Moving Forward".
Middle right image- Members of Lansing BLSA E-Board at Black History Month Reception
Bottom left image- BLSA parliamentarian, Yvonne Lomax (2L), presents Judge Clarke with a token of appreciation from the Lansing BLSA Chapter.