Black History Month at UC Law: Janelle Thompson

UC Law 3L discusses how Black History is American history

Janelle Thompson is a third-year law student at Cincinnati Law, a Nathaniel R. Jones Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice Fellow, president of the Black Law Student Association (BLSA), Secretary of the Student Bar Association, and a member of the Intellectual Property Club. Janelle was an intern at KMK Law in the summer of ‘21 and plans to join the firm following graduation. You can read more about Janelle and her story on UC Law's website.

Who is a historical and/or current-day figure who inspires you to commemorate Black History Month? Why do they inspire you?

There are many influential figures that inspire me to commemorate Black History Month. Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Angela Davis, James Baldwin, Fannie Lou Hamer, MLK and many others give me strength to continue my educational and personal journey when I am lacking.

What does celebrating Black History Month mean to you, as an individual?

Celebrating Black History Month is an opportunity to reflect on the contributions of my ancestors to American society. The month is a reminder of where we have come from and hope for where we are going.

In what ways do you consider Black Achievement to be important in today's society?

Black Achievement is essential in today's society. Black Achievement is American achievement because we are forever tied to this country's history. While Black Americans have progressed far beyond what people thought was possible, there is still much more work to do. This work is important because Black Achievement combats the harmful stereotypes that still perpetuate through our community.

Why is celebrating Black History Month important at the College of Law?

Celebrating Black History Month is important at the College of Law because the Black students in our legal community need the representation. It lets us feel seen and supported by the greater legal community. Oftentimes, we feel silenced and unmotivated in law school. A month of celebration helps combat those feelings.

How do you see your study of law intersecting with Black History?

As a Black women in the legal field, studying law by itself is adding to Black History. Furthermore, I want to enter predominately non-Black spaces such as corporate and real estate law to provide representation to other Black law students. I want to show that we belong in all spaces, not only civil rights law and criminal defense.

What do want future generations to know about Black History and Black Achievements?

I want future generations to know about more than the basic, white-washed version of Black History that I was originally taught. I want generations to know that Black History is American history and deserves to be celebrated all year.

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Featured Image: Asa Featherstone IV

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