In observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) at WMU-Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills campus organized MLK Day of Service activities. On Jan. 18, students volunteered at Forgotten Harvest food bank in Oak Park. On Jan. 21, BLSA students hosted a brunch, scholarship award presentation and the panel discussion, “Living the Dream,” with attorneys Aaron Burrell, Michael Friedman, and Erika Morgan as keynote speakers.
The Auburn Hills campus chapter of BLSA presented its annual scholarship to Leanna Poole for best exemplifying the organization’s mission. BLSA, a national organization, established in 1968, works to develop culturally responsible Black and minority law students who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community
During the “Living the Dream” discussion, the panelists spoke about the fundamentals of what “living the dream means” to each of them.
Friedman, before becoming an attorney, drove a truck in Cleveland, Ohio, for 14 years. He was a union activist and a founding member of Teamsters for a Democratic Union. He spoke about the challenges of achieving freedom.
“Freedom is a constant struggle. It’s never more true than what is going on today,” said Friedman. “There is also a phrase that Martin Luther King used to say, 'The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.' I think the truth is that it doesn't bend toward justice; it has to be pushed constantly. And as lawyers there is a role in that."
Burrell, who practices complex litigation, labor and employment law, appellate law, and minority business enterprises at Dickinson Wright, spoke about how law school prepared him to become a successful attorney, but acknowledged there is still work to be done.
“It (law school) prepared me in a way, that quite frankly, I was able to outperform many of my individual colleagues that I was competing against, but when I started at the firm, that came with a great deal of trust. So I am living the dream now, but I also realize there is a long way to go,” said Burrell.
Morgan, who practices at Morgan Law, has experience in criminal, immigration and estate planning law. She said “I believe that, because of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I had the opportunity to attend law school.”
WMU-Cooley’s Equal Access to Justice Day suspends classes in observance of MLK Day. Students, faculty and staff devote the day to reflect and attend programs on the role of law and lawyers in protecting the right of everyone and assuring equal access to justice.