This is part 2 in a two-part series marking BLSA’s 50th anniversary. Read part 1.

For 50 years as of this week, the Black Law Students Association has been a force in recruiting Black students and faculty, as well as creating a sense of belonging for community members at the University of Virginia School of Law.

“In reflecting on BLSA’s role at the Law School over the years, we are deeply grateful for and inspired by the resilience, wisdom and strength of all of the BLSA alumni who came before us,” BLSA President Allison Burns ’22 said. “The story of BLSA at UVA Law has been one of relentless advocacy and tight-knit community.”

Burns said the group is directing a weeklong social media campaign on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook — including trivia games and survey questions — to count down to the founding date, Oct. 16. (At the time of its founding in 1970, the group was called the Black American Law Students Association, or BALSA.)

The chapter will also relaunch Black Culture Week, which was originally hosted at UVA in February of 1970.

“In February 2021, we will have a week of events celebrating Black culture and we look forward to launching a digital BLSA exhibit in collaboration with the library,” she said.

Burns said BLSA members are “proud to continue this legacy by finding creative ways to foster community and support for current BLSA students and working with the administration to make meaningful changes in the school that will benefit BLSA students to come.”

Over the years the group has won numerous “chapter of the year” awards from the National Black Law Students Association, including in March 2020 and six since 2002. Among the group’s goals today are making UVA Law a more inclusive space.

“We continue to advocate for the active recruitment of Black faculty, staff and students and the inclusion of race in the academic space, through diversity training, more race-based courses, and a graduation requirement [that students take such a course].”

Images from the past 50 years showcase the organization’s activities, from service projects at home and abroad, to hosting high-profile speakers and sponsoring career receptions.

“BLSA is special as an organization precisely because of this rich history and strong sense of community,” Burns said. “UVA BLSA students support each other while at the school and well after graduation. I am humbled and grateful to be a part of such an organization.”

BLSA Over the Years

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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