Harvard BLSA 50th Anniversary Celebration

The Harvard Black Law Students Association will be hosting the 50th Anniversary Celebration on April 6-7, 2018 at Harvard Law School. The weekend will serve as a time for alumni, current members, and guests to reflect on the various ways that Harvard BLSA has shaped the experience of Black students at Harvard Law School – the sense of family it has created, the professional opportunities that it has exposed members to, and the ways that it has allowed our members to impact the broader Black community.

Schedule of Events

Friday, April 6, 2018

*Attire: Business Formal

1:30-3:00pm: Opening Reception, Milstein West

  • Opening Remarks from Dean John F. Manning, Bishop Holifield (Harvard BLSA Co-Founder), and Jazzmin Carr (2017-2018 Harvard BLSA President)

3:30-4:45pm: Breakout Session Group 1, WCC

  • The Front Lines: Lawyering with Grit and Compassion
  • Running for Office: Why Black Political Power Needs You
  • JD Yoga: Channeling the Versatility of a Law Degree
  • Debate: Criminal Justice Reform in 2018

5:00-6:15pm: Breakout Session Group 2, WCC

  • HLS and the Continent: Engaging Africa With Your Degree
  • “Why Should White Guys Have All The Fun?”: Remembering Reginald F. Lewis and Building Black Wealth
  • Writing while Black: Choosing your Voice, Style, and Subject Matter in Legal Writing
  • The Obama Legacy: Policies Worth Fighting For

*Attire: Formal

7:00-8:00pm: Gala Cocktail Hour, The Charles Hotel

8:00-10:00pm: Gala, The Charles Hotel Ballroom

  • Keynote Address from The Honorable Robert L. Wilkins of the United State Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

10:00-11:00pm: After Party, Noir Bar at The Charles Hotel

Saturday, April 7, 2018

9:00-12:00pm: Black Hackathon, Pound Hall

11:00am-12:00pm: Documentary on Reginald F. Lewis featuring Q&A with L.Marilyn Crawford, Pound Hall

12:00-4:00pm: Harvard BLSA Block Party, Holmes Field

* Will be held at Oberon (2 Arrow Street, Cambridge, MA, 02138) in case of inclement weather

  • 12:00-2:30pm: Performances from local artists and DJs; Black Owned Business Bazaar; Activities
  • 3:00-4:00pm: Musical Performance by Musiq Soulchild

*Attire: Cocktail

6:00-7:00pm: Cocktail Hour, Milstein West

  • Admitted students will be in attendance

7:00-9:30pm: Closing Dinner and Tribute to Reginald F. Lewis, Milstein East

  • Opening Remarks from Mrs. Loida Lewis
  • Keynote from Professor David B. Wilkins

11:00pm-2:00am: After Party, Cure Lounge (246 Tremont Street, Boston, MA, 02116)



Please register for the Celebration at HarvardBLSA50.eventbrite.com. Please send any ticketing inquiries and requests to hlsblsa50@gmail.com.


Below, please find biographies of our keynote speakers and special guests:

Gala Keynote Speaker

The Honorable Robert L. Wilkins

Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Judge Wilkins was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on January 15, 2014. A native of Muncie Indiana, he obtained a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in 1986 and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1989. Following law school, Judge Wilkins served as a law clerk to the Honorable Earl B. Gilliam of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. In 1990, he joined the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, where he served first as a staff attorney in the trial and appellate divisions and later for several years as Special Litigation Chief. In 2002, he joined the law firm of Venable LLP as a partner, handling white-collar defense, intellectual property and complex civil litigation matters. During his tenure with the Public Defender Service and in private practice, Judge Wilkins served as the lead plaintiff in Wilkins, et al. v. State of Maryland, a landmark civil rights lawsuit that inspired nationwide legislative and executive reform of police stop-and-search practices and the collection of data regarding those practices. Judge Wilkins also played a key role in the establishment of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, serving as the Chairman of the Site and Building Committee of the Presidential Commission whose work led to the Congressional authorization of the museum and the selection of its location. As a practicing lawyer, he was named one of the “40 under 40 most successful young litigators in America” by the National Law Journal (2002) and one of the “90 Greatest Washington Lawyers of the Last 30 Years” by the Legal Times (2008). On December 27, 2010, Judge Wilkins was appointed United States District Judge for the District of Columbia, where he served until his appointment to the D.C. Circuit.

Closing Dinner Keynote Speaker

David B. Wilkins

Lester Kissel Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

Professor Wilkins is the Lester Kissel Professor of Law, Vice Dean for Global Initiatives on the Legal Profession, and Faculty Director of the Center on the Legal Profession and the Center for Lawyers and the Professional Services Industry at Harvard Law School. He is also a Senior Research Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and a Fellow of the Harvard University Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics.

Professor Wilkins has written over 80 articles on the legal profession in leading scholarly journals and the popular press and is the co-author (along with his Harvard Law School colleague Andrew Kaufman) of one of the leading casebooks in the field.  His current scholarly projects include Globalization, Lawyers, and Emerging Economies (where he directs over 50 researchers studying the impact of globalization on the market for legal services in rapidly developing countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe); After the JD (a ten-year nationwide longitudinal study of lawyers’ careers); The Harvard Law School Career Study (examining, among other things, differences in the experiences of male and female graduates and the careers of lawyers who do not practice law); and The New Social Engineers (charting the historical development and current experiences of black lawyers in corporate law practice).

Professor Wilkins teaches several courses on lawyers including The Legal ProfessionLegal Education for the Twenty-First Century, and Challenges of a General Counsel. In 2007, he co-founded Harvard Law School’s Executive Education Program, where he teaches in several courses including Leadership in Law Firms and Leadership in Corporate Counsel.

Professor Wilkins has given over 40 endowed lectures at universities around the world and is a frequent speaker at professional conferences and law firm and corporate retreats.  His recent academic honors include the 2012 Honorary Doctorate in Law from Stockholm University in Sweden, the 2012 Distinguished Visiting Mentor Award from Australia National University, the 2012 Genest Fellowship from Osgoode Hall Law School, the 2010 American Bar Foundation Scholar of the Year Award, the 2009 J. Clay Smith Award from Howard University School of Law, and the 2008 Order of the Coif Distinguished Visitor Fellowship.  In 2012, Professor Wilkins was elected as a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Closing Dinner Speaker

Loida Nicolas Lewis

Chair & CEO, TLC Beatrice, LLC

Mrs. Lewis is Chair and CEO of TLC Beatrice, LLC, a family investment firm.  A lawyer by profession, admitted to practice in the Philippines and New York, Mrs. Lewis was the first Filipino woman to pass the New York bar without attending law school in the United States.

Having won her discrimination case against the US Immigration and Naturalization Service in 1987, she integrated the agency, now called Citizenship & Immigration Service (CIS).  She co-authored “How to Get A Green Card,” now in its 12th edition and a bestseller in its genre.

Mrs. Lewis served as Chair and CEO of TLC Beatrice International, a $2 billion multinational food company with operations all across Europe, from 1994-2000.  She assumed its leadership after the death of her husband, Wall Street financier Reginald F. Lewis who, in 1987, engineered a leveraged buyout for $985 million of Beatrice International Food thus becoming the 1st African American to create a billion dollar company.

Mrs. Lewis is Chair of the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation, which is a benefactor of Harvard Law School, Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, Virginia State University and the Lewis College in Sorsogon her home town in the Philippines. A building has been name at those institutions in Mr. Lewis’ honor.  The foundation is also a major donor to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

Mrs. Lewis is member of the Board of Directors of Children’s Orchestra Society, US Philippines Society and the Apollo Theatre Foundation.  She is co-founder of several advocacy organizations:  Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund, National Federation of Filipino-American Associations, US Pinoys for Good Governance and Global Filipino Diaspora Council.  She speaks several languages:  Filipino, English, French and Spanish.

Mrs. Lewis has two daughters, both cum laude A.B graduates of Harvard University:  Leslie is an actor, writer and producer.  Christina is a former Wall Street Journal reporter and philanthropist who founded and chairs All Star Code, a non-profit organization designed to empower young men of color with the skills, networks and mindset to create a new future through technology.  Mrs. Lewis has four grandchildren.