Multiethnic coalition of law student organizations at IIT Chicago-Kent receives the 2011 Sheldon H. Nahmod IIT Civil Rights Award

Friday, January 21, 2011
Distinguished Professor Sheldon Nahmod (far left) presented the 2011 Sheldon H. Nahmod IIT Civil Rights Award to a coalition of four Chicago-Kent student organizations represented by (from left) 3L student Rohit Paul, SALSA president; 2L student Brittany Pritchett, BLSA vice-president; 2L student James Vergara, APALSA president; and 3L student Matt Alva, HLLSA president. Lisa Montgomery (far right), director of the IIT Student Center for Diversity and Inclusion, organized the university's King Day celebration.
Distinguished Professor Sheldon Nahmod (far left) presented the 2011 Sheldon H. Nahmod IIT Civil Rights Award to a coalition of four Chicago-Kent student organizations represented by (from left) 3L student Rohit Paul, SALSA president; 2L student Brittany Pritchett, BLSA vice-president; 2L student James Vergara, APALSA president; and 3L student Matt Alva, HLLSA president. Lisa Montgomery (far right), director of the IIT Student Center for Diversity and Inclusion, organized the university's King Day celebration.

A multiethnic coalition of four student organizations at Illinois Institute of Technology's Chicago-Kent College of Law has received the 2011 Sheldon H. Nahmod IIT Civil Rights Award for "continuing and selfless dedication to those in need in their communities and beyond."

The award was presented to representatives from Chicago-Kent's African-American (BLSA), Hispanic-Latino (HLLSA), Asian-Pacific American (APALSA) and South Asian (SALSA) law student associations on January 20 as part of the university's King Day celebration.

The award was established in 2010 by IIT's Student Center for Diversity and Inclusion to honor Chicago-Kent Distinguished Professor Sheldon H. Nahmod for his work in civil rights and civil liberties. The award recognizes the contributions and achievements of an upcoming generation of leaders whose work to fight prejudice, oppression and ignorance is having an impact on campuses and communities. High school and college students or student organizations in the metropolitan Chicago area who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to their community are eligible.

"The Chicago-Kent student organizations honored this year have an impressive body of work," said Lisa Montgomery, director of the Student Center for Diversity and Inclusion. "They have donated their time and expertise to promote social action within their individual groups and communities. These groups formed a coalition to pool their resources and work on collaborative projects to benefit others."

The students' initiatives are many. "Lawyers in the Classroom" is a BLSA project that presents legal education programs for students at Chicago's Darwin Elementary School. Satyam: The Chicago-Kent College of Law's Journal on South Asia and the Law is SALSA's forthcoming publication and is believed to be the first law journal by an American law school to focus on legal issues directly related to the South Asian community in the United States. ("Satyam" means "truth" in Sanskrit.) Each year, HLLSA's "Judge's Night" honors a sitting judge for his or her dedication to public service and contributions to Chicago's Hispanic-Latino community. Members of APALSA volunteer at Korean Women in Need, the first organization in the United States formed to serve victims of domestic violence in the Korean community.

"This award is special because it involves young people and also the memory and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the greatest Americans of the 20th or any other century," said Professor Sheldon H. Nahmod, namesake of the award. "I am especially pleased that the award this year goes to Chicago-Kent law students."

Citing the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, Professor Nahmod continued, "People cannot rely exclusively on the courts for political and social change. It took the work of Dr. King and others who put their lives on the line to make the promise of Brown a reality."

A member of the Chicago-Kent faculty since 1978, Professor Nahmod is a noted expert on constitutional law, civil rights and the law of Section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code, perhaps the most important federal civil rights/civil liberties statute ever enacted. For nearly three decades, Professor Nahmod has convened the Section 1983 Civil Rights Litigation Conference at Chicago-Kent, which brings scholars and practitioners together for a greater understanding of the law. He has argued civil rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and many other federal courts. Professor Nahmod lectures regularly on civil rights matters to federal judges and attorneys throughout the country and speaks to lay groups about constitutional law.

Chicago-Kent College of Law is the law school of Illinois Institute of Technology, a private, Ph.D.-granting institution with programs in engineering, psychology, architecture, business, design and law. The Chicago-Kent Black Law Student Association was founded in 1974, the Hispanic-Latino Law Student Association in 1982, the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association in 1989, and the South Asian Law Student Association in 2002.

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