Florida A&M University will unveil a plaque honoring the 57 original College of Law graduates at 2pm on Friday, September 9, 2022. The unveiling will take place on the Tallahassee campus, home of the original law school, which operated from 1951 until 1968. It will also be live streamed on Facebook.
This unveiling event takes place as FAMU Law celebrates its 20th anniversary in Orlando. The plaque unveiling is part of Rattlers for Justice Day at FAMU.
Among the graduates of the original law school are former judges, a former U.S. congressman, a former Florida Secretary of State, a former state senator, and other public servants.
“The FAMU College of Law’s legacy is engraved in the annals of our state and our country through the accomplishments of the initial 57 graduates of the program. They have set extraordinary examples for generations to follow, including today’s ‘Rattlers for Justice’ and anyone motivated by service,” said President Larry Robinson, Ph.D. “This plaque will memorialize our original graduates and inspire current students to similar acts of selfless courage.”
This is an opportunity for law school students, faculty, and staff to visit the main campus in Tallahassee and share in the rich tradition of the “Highest of Seven Hills.
“The original law school graduates paved the way for those who attend FAMU Law today,” said Deidré Keller, dean of FAMU Law. “We are thankful for our original alums, their accomplishments and the legacy of transformative service they established, which we endeavor to continue.”
The story surrounding these graduates and the law school is unique. FAMU’s law school is the only one of the six HBCU law schools currently in existence that was opened, shutdown, and re-opened.
When Florida Governor Jeb Bush signed legislation on June 14, 2000, authorizing a College of Law at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, high expectations were set for the new law school. The College’s opening in fall of 2002 in Orlando was heralded as an opportunity to right a wrong and diversify the legal profession. The enabling legislation stated that the College would be “dedicated to providing opportunities for minorities to attain representation within the legal profession proportionate to their representation in the general population.”
College of Law alumna Arthenia Joyner, former Senate minority leader and the longest practicing Black female lawyer in the history of Florida, plans to attend the unveiling ceremony.
“This plaque serves as a historic testament to the early legal trailblazers who opened the door to so many Blacks to the rich rewards of the practice of law. I have spent the last 53 years practicing law and serving the public as an elected official,” Joyner said. “These rewards come courtesy of the law professors who encouraged me to utilize my legal training to continue my quest for justice and equality for Black people. As one of the six individuals in that last class to graduate from the original FAMU College of Law in 1968, I am forever grateful.”