Legal Clinic Antiracism Statement

We, the faculty and staff of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Bowen School of Law Clinical Program stand together with those mourning the deaths of Daniel Prude, Dijon Kizzee, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and too many others who have suffered death and brutality at the hands of the state. We acknowledge the pain of our African American colleagues, students, and clients. We must and will support our clients and students who are BIPOC in ways that recognize their myriad contributions to our fight for equal access to justice under the law.

From inception to today, the Bowen Clinical Program has been committed to the core principles of the Bowen Law School – Access to Justice, Public Service, and Professionalism. We strive, daily, to honor our “special responsibility for the quality of justice”[1] through our representation of historically marginalized populations and through the service-oriented learning opportunities we provide to our students.

We support the Bowen Law School’s Racial Justice and Equity Action Plan, in particular its commitment to “address racial justice throughout the legal system through its professionalism, scholarship and service.” As a clinical program, we are uniquely positioned to address issues of systemic racism. We are committed to dismantling pervasive racial disparities, inequities, and injustices on our campus and in our communities.

As a clinical education program, we believe and teach that every individual has the right to access our courts and receive equal treatment under the law, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or any other identifying characteristic.  We recommit to serving our clients and the Bowen Law student body with fairness, justice, and equality, while empowering our students to use their legal education to press for changes that lead to improvement of the law, fairness for all people in the administration of justice, and equal access to the legal system.

We hope that we are seeing a tipping point toward real and meaningful action in pursuit of racial justice. We recognize, however, that current events cannot be seen in isolation, and each act of violence against BIPOC, including the brutality against Jacob Blake, builds upon hundreds of years of daily structural violence, oppression, and injustice. We reiterate the words of Dr. King, which ring true today as they did 57 years ago, “Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.”[2]

We stand with our individual faculty colleagues who pledged their commitment to antiracism this summer.[3] We reaffirm our commitment to pursuing antiracist principles and policies throughout our communities.  We recognize that antiracism is a powerful collection of policies that lead to racial equity and that are validated by antiracist ideas, including that there is nothing inherently right or wrong with any racial group.  We will continue to answer the call for justice in our nation and to listen to the voices of our African American communities, as well as the voices of other historically marginalized groups, including members of the Latinx, indigenous, Asian, Arab, and LGBTQ+ communities, among others, as we seek to eradicate racism and oppression in all forms.

Finally, we commit to:

  • Welcome a diversity of perspectives in our work to serve the public;
  • Actively seek input from BIPOC, including our students, clients, colleagues, and
    impacted communities;
  • Examine our own privilege and biases;
  • Engage in antiracism programs, workshops, and curriculum development;
  • Continue to competently, diligently, and vigorously represent our clients in the struggle
    for justice;
  • Support the development of a more diverse clinical staff, faculty, and student body;
  • Better stand with communities advocating for systemic change.

We recognize that as clinical faculty and staff, we are well situated to promote ways in which racial equality and access to justice may be created and sustained. We take these commitments seriously as we work toward eradicating racism and all forms of oppression. In doing so, we hope to see all individuals and communities thrive.

[1] Arkansas Rules of Professional Conduct, Preamble.

[2] Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I Have a Dream (Aug. 28, 1963).

[3] We thank our colleague, Professor dre cummings, for drafting the faculty pledge which inspired this statement.