BLSA celebrates UF Law’s largest class of black graduates

Published: April 20th, 2009

Category: News

On Friday April 17, the Black Law Student Association (BLSA) kicked off the University Of Florida Levin College Of Law’s Centennial celebration. In addition to celebrating 100 years of legal education, BLSA also celebrated 50 years of diversity as the first African-American student George Starke was admitted in fall 1958.

Recognizing that diversity extends beyond the black community, the event held at the Matheson Museum, was open to the entire UF Law community.

Dean Jerry welcomed the guests and congratulated BLSA on its leadership. He also noted that not only was progress evident at UF Law, but in the country as evidenced by the election of the first African-American president of the United States Barack Obama. The guest speaker Allison Thompson, the director at Three Rivers Legal Services, also spoke about history. She spoke about her place in history with regard to diversity as one of the first African-American female graduates of UF Law (there were two in the class of 1973).

In celebrating diversity, BLSA recognized 27 individuals, the largest class of black graduates in the history of UF Law: Andrea Adibe, Jayson Alfonso, Ranaldo Allen, Renee Allen, Adrienne Biddings, Sophia Blair, Jonathan Blocker, Agnes Byrd, Meta M. Cooper, Marsha Dixon, Kailey Evans, Anisha Henry, Somara Jacques, Daniel Jean-Baptiste, Shanta Matthews, Simone Nelson, Crystal Talley, Clement C.J. Rabess, Linje Rivers, Jennifer Salu, Sharon Salu, Stephanie Simmonds, Iyandra Smith, Marie Triche, Ryan Waters, Nickisha Webb, and Kimberley Wright.

Because of the historical significance of the celebration, several sponsors contributed to the success of the event. The Law College Council and Student Government contributed financially, Dean Inman and Michelle Ocepek donated portfolios for the graduates, Junior’s catered the food, and the UF Law Bookstore donated door prizes.

For more on the history of diversity at UF Law, please visit and click on the link “Knowledge of the Past” for a presentation created by BLSA Class of 2009 graduate Daniel Jean-Baptiste.