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Derrick Richardson Law Student Scholarship

1 winner$1,000
Application Deadline
Feb 4, 2023
Winners Announced
Mar 4, 2023
Education Level
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
2nd or 3rd year student in Law School

Before he passed away, my son Derrick Richardson was passionate about his civil law practice and defending people of color against discrimination. 

My son was a giver. He often gave out of the kindness of his heart without expecting anything at all in return. His practice often portrayed his selfless attitude, representing those who are typically silenced in the courtroom and beyond. 

To honor my son’s legacy, I want to bestow the Derrick Richardson Law Student Scholarship to one second or third-year Black law student who is serious about their studies in civil rights law and becoming a lawyer. 

To apply, please write about how you’ll use your Law degree to help disadvantaged Black people in the courtroom.

Selection Criteria:
Essay, Selfless, Socially Aware, Impact, Ambition
Published April 5, 2022
Essay Topic

How will you use your law degree to help disadvantaged Black people in the courtroom?

400–600 words

Winning Application

Rachel Barkley
Yeshiva UniversityQueens, NY
I hope to use my law degree to help disadvantaged Black people by working with domestic violence survivors either in a client-centered non-profit space, or through other governmental victim-centered organizations. Knowing that Black women experience domestic violence at disproportionate rates (twenty-two percent of black women and girls will be raped at some point in their lives and for every Black woman who reports a rape, fifteen Black women do not report), securing my JD would allow me to help support those who are currently navigating a criminal legal system that largely vilifies our identities. With a Juris Doctorate, I hope to dedicate myself to advocating for survivors at the next level. Motivated by my own experience and the experiences of others, I have already used my time in law school to educate victim-survivors by creating a library of resources dealing with this unique trauma and connecting survivors to mental health professionals or legal representatives that have experience working directly with those who have experienced sexual assault. Additionally, I hope to instill victim-survivors with a sense of confidence in order to break down the system, setting a precedent for more in-court victories and establishing real-world protections for those who have experienced sexual violence. Knowing that campus sexual assault and harassment also directly affects Black women, I have aspirations to get more involved in the fight to improve Title IX regulations to push for more strict language regarding Title IX's interactions with Title IV of the Civil Rights Act. Change must come from within, and with a JD, I hope to eventually work in policy or legislation to reallocate the Violence Against Women Act and employ restorative justice informed by a victim-centered approach. Further, I plan to use my law degree to support incarcerated folks. In this capacity, I hope to get more involved with organizations like Survived and Punished or the Innocence Project, which are groups that help criminalized survivors who are incarcerated after committing violence against their abusive spouses. Knowing that the carceral system is largely an environment that promotes institutional rape, I hope to use my law degree to help support those experiencing the harm created by the prison industrial complex by representing survivors in the appeal and post-conviction process. A law school education can provide me with the tools to change the lives of others who have lived in silence for too long and teach victim-survivors to learn from my mistakes. Sexual assault is an epidemic and there are many more strides we can take to improve the lives of victim-survivors everywhere. Finally, my condolences to you and your family for the loss of your son. Thank you for providing this scholarship in his honor and I appreciate your consideration.
Niya Tandy
Howard UniversityWashington, DC
I came to law school because I wanted to advocate for the civil rights of others, but especially for those in the Black community. The killing of Michael Brown in 2014 and the Black Lives Matter protests that occurred in Ferguson, MO, just 30 minutes from my hometown of St. Louis, left me saddened, enraged, and confused. I couldn’t understand why such tragedies were allowed to happen, and there is often little to no justice. This confusion led me specifically to Howard University School of Law, where I knew my education would be tailored towards becoming a social engineer and there would be other advocates who sought to protect the civil rights of Black people. Law school has exposed me to a variety of civil rights violations that Black people face daily. Although the legal field heavily promotes diversity and inclusion, there is a lack of Black attorneys and many more are needed to successfully advocate for the needs of Black people. Not only do certain laws put Black people at a disadvantage, but the entire legal community is imbued with bias, and yes, racism, that prevents the justice system from being, well—just. My passion to help the Black community extends beyond just one legal issue or area of law, instead, I aspire to use my talents and my degree to advocate for the rights of Black individuals in a multitude of areas including in employment, education, voting, and §1983 police misconduct cases. Being a lawyer requires not only diligence, but someone who is passionate and thorough in the work that they do. I understand that overcoming racial barriers in the justice system is not easy, and it will be a long, and sometimes stressful process. However, I often think about how the Thurgood Marshalls, and the Constance Baker Motleys, prevailed and continued the fight. I’m sure the work was ten times more draining than it is in today’s “progressive” society, but they had the energy and the passion to keep going. Moreover, what made them so successful was their reputation of being thorough, skilled, and ethical lawyers. Effective civil rights advocacy must be strategic, persistent, and executed with proficiency. Passion alone will not suffice. In addition to my passion, I seek to embody the ideals of a competent lawyer and give my future clients the best representation possible. Since starting law school, I have been able to build on these skills through volunteering, internships, and I am currently a student-attorney in the Civil Rights Clinic at Howard. No matter what area of law that I practice, providing competent, diligent, and ethical representation will best advance the legal claims of Black individuals and give them a chance to not only hope for but receive justice. I will have some wins as well as some losses, but like the greats before me, I will not falter on my duties to provide adequate representation, and I will not let my losses discourage me. I would like to extend my condolences to you and your family for the loss of your son, and I thank you for providing this scholarship in his honor.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Feb 4, 2023. Winners will be announced on Mar 4, 2023.

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