Syracuse University: College of Law, Community Partners Win Innovation Award for Race and Justice in Central New York Series

The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) Committee for Bar Leaders of New York State has announced that the Bond, Schoeneck & King Series on Race and Justice in Central New York (CNY) is the 2021 winner of the NYSBA Innovation Award for medium-sized associations. The series—launched in fall 2020—is a collaboration among Syracuse University College of Law, Onondaga County Bar Association, Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC, and other community partners and CNY law firms. The series was created with the goal of helping people examine and better understand the structure of local and national legal systems and their impact on disparate outcomes for those in historically disenfranchised groups.

As Professor Paula Johnson, co-director of Syracuse Law’s Cold Case Justice Initiative and a Race and Justice in CNY project coordinator, explained at the series launch, “The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other unarmed Black people and people of color at the hands of law enforcement compelled the Bar Association and the College of Law to respond in ways that involved, informed and collaborated across our community.”

The inaugural event in the series was the Racial Justice Community Book Read, which discussed the memoir “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson. Professor Johnson and Associate Dean of Equity and Inclusion Suzette Meléndez, a member of this collaborative, were two of the facilitators who led these book discussions, along with other community members. The series also included a discussion on the State of Police Reform in Central New York, a Facebook Live event moderated by Johnson that convened officials from Syracuse-area towns and law enforcement organizations.

“I am proud that our state bar association has recognized the strength, breadth and significance of this initiative,” says College of Law Dean Craig M. Boise. “It is no small feat to convene so many community partners, leaders and members to respectfully and thoughtfully discuss matters of justice, police reform and the rule of law. This award is testament to our partners’ and sponsors’ generosity and their commitment to candidly examining inequities found throughout our legal systems.”

College of Law, Community Partners Win Innovation Award for Race and Justice in Central New York Series