Civil Rights Activist Arthenia Joyner Speaks at ‘Increasing Diversity in the Legal Profession’ Discussion at WMU-Cooley Law School
In observance of Black History Month, the Black Law Students Association at WMU-Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus hosted civil rights activist and former State Sen. Arthenia Joyner to speak about “Increasing Diversity in the Legal Profession.” Joyner has spent her career advocating for civil rights. She served as a member of the Florida Senate for 10 years, representing the Tampa Bay Area from 2006 to 2016 and was the Senate minority leader during her last two years in office. Senator Joyner left the Florida Senate due to term limits.
During her presentation, Joyner spoke about increasing diversity in the legal profession and achieving academic success. She encouraged students to take full advantage of their education.
“Cooley has given you an opportunity to do good. Work hard while you are in law school, and do not waste this wonderful opportunity,” Joyner said. “When you graduate and become a lawyer, work for justice and equal treatment for all people."
She quoted Dr. Maya Angelou’s poem written for the 1993 inauguration of President Bill Clinton titled, “On the Pulse of Morning,” which celebrates connectedness and human solidarity.
“It was an honor having Arthenia speak to our community for this event,” said Renalia DuBose, WMU-Cooley Law School professor. “Arthenia’s relentless passion for equal rights is an inspiration to all professionals advocating for truth and justice.”
Upon graduation from Florida A&M University’s College of Law (FAMU), Joyner worked as a legal assistant to State Representative Joe Lang Kershaw in 1969, and later became a founding partner in the law firm of Stewart, Joyner and Jordan-Holmes. She was the first black attorney in Polk County and the first black female Hillsborough County. Joyner went on to become the first black Governor’s appointee to the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, as well as the first black female on the Board of Directors of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.
From 1984 to 1985, Joyner served as the President of the National Bar Association, and was arrested for her role in a protest against discrimination during her tenure. In 1995, Joyner was appointed by then President Bill Clinton to serve as the American representative at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. Joyner is currently of counsel at the Vanguard Attorneys law firm in Tampa.
About Western Michigan University Cooley Law School: WMU-Cooley Law School resulted from the 2014 affiliation that combined WMU's status as a nationally-ranked, public, comprehensive research university with the commitment to practical legal education of an independent, non-profit, national law school. WMU-Cooley is accredited by both the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The law school has provided nearly 20,000 graduates with the practical skills necessary for a seamless transition from academia to the real world, and enrolls classes in January, May, and September at its Lansing, Auburn Hills, and Grand Rapids, Michigan campuses, and its Tampa Bay, Florida campus. WMU and WMU-Cooley Law School operate as independent institutions with their own governance structure and separate fiduciary responsibilities.