Black History Month at UC Law: Travis Hardee

Travis Hardee is a first-year UC Law student from South Carolina pursuing both his JD and MA in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies as part of UC's dual degree program. He spoke with us about why closing the representation gap in the legal field—one of the least diverse industries—is important to him, and how he hopes to support other Black-identifying people in their pursuit of legal education.

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

A historical figure who inspires me to commemorate Black History Month is Charles Hamilton Houston. If it were not for his work in helping to dismantle Jim Crow and segregation in schools, the amount of African-Americans in the legal profession may be significantly lower. His work inspires me because he used his legal education for the betterment of the Black community and dedicated himself to ending systems of oppression.

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

Celebrating Black History Month begins by commemorating the accomplishments, sacrifices, and perseverance of the African-American community through U.S. history despite their continued oppression. It means recognizing the beauty, strength, and humanity of each Black-identifying person and celebrating their presence. And finally, Black History Month, from the perspective of a future legal professional, stands as a reminder that injustice is still present and requires the attention of every legally educated person to provide redress for the inequalities that still affect the lives of underrepresented people.

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

I consider Black Achievement to be important for every aspect of our society. Most notably, I see Black Achievement as providing a model to aid future generations in overcoming institutional barriers.

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

Celebrating Black History Month is important at any law school because our legal system would not be where it is today without the diverse perspectives, ingenuity, and advocacy of Black legal professionals. As an institution training future legal professionals, it should be inherent that the College of Law celebrates the rich history that African-Americans have contributed to the formation of our legal system. Ensuring everyone is knowledgeable about that history is a step in the direction of addressing discrimination and bias within our society.

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

I see my study of law as contributing to Black History by furthering the goal of closing the gap of representation in the legal field. Knowing People of Color are drastically underrepresented in the legal field makes the fact that I'm seeking a legal degree increasingly meaningful. However, I know the lack of representation in the field will not stop with me obtaining a law degree. In the future, I intend to make it my mission to support other Black-identifying people to pursue a legal degree in hopes of narrowing the gap of representation for People of Color in the legal profession.

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

I want future generations to know that Black History continues with every achievement they make. Also, those achievements are just as meaningful as the work of our most revered historical figures. For future generations, Black History Month should stand as a reminder that the past, and the present, have not been kind to Black folk. However, they shouldn't let those barriers prevent them from achieving their goals. We have a history of remarkable people who have given us a framework for success against adversity.

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Featured Image: Joe Fuqua

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