October 17, 2022

Pictured from left: ACLU of Georgia Executive Director Andrea Young, National Black Law Student Association Attorney General Kelsey Perine, and Congressman Hank Johnson.

ACLU of Georgia Executive Director Andrea Young encouraged community involvement and voting to Black law students Friday during an event at Emory University School of Law. She mentored the students alongside Congressman Hank Johnson, who similarly urged the crowd to use their skills for public good.

Young visited Emory as a speaker for the National Black Law Students Association’s annual symposium. The event’s theme for this year was, “1960s to Now: Where Do We Go From Here?”

In the sunlit Hunter Atrium, Young discussed the progression of voting rights nationwide and in Georgia over the past six decades, and educated students on the current status of voting-related legislation. Perhaps most importantly, Young and Johnson encouraged the law students to get involved civically.

“Everyone in this room, we clearly see during our lives that we have to change the system. Policies and practices need to be addressed for positive change. We’re not trying to integrate into a burning house,” Young said. “Whenever you have the opportunity to impact policy, go for it. We don’t have a society right now that’s supportive of the most vulnerable.”

Voting is also essential, Young added, as local officials have the biggest impact on “close-to-home” decisions, such as money for schools, whether a neighborhood park will be spruced up, and much more. She said as law students, the crowd had a greater understanding of how legal processes work, and they are obligated to inform the community. Johnson, an attorney serving as the U.S. representative for Georgia's 4th congressional district since 2007, echoed her encouragement.

Jerzy Shedlock (he/him) is a communications specialist at the ACLU of Georgia