Updated: Aug 9, 2021
Meet the Co-Founders of Law Students for Black Lives!
Alyssa Gordon, University of Texas School of Law, Class of 2022
Co-Executive Director 2020-2021, 2021-2022
Injustice + a prolonged period of time does not = justice. Yet, according to every one of America's major institutions, it does, and the nation's violent anti-Black history is considered a mere thing of the past. I co-founded Law Students for Black Lives because the legal system is an active participant in the subjugation and dehumanization of Black people in America, and I felt it was necessary not only to use my privilege as a law student to expose such injustices, but to develop strategies to help rectify them. From America's founding, the law has been weaponized as a tool to harass, intimidate, and imprison African Americans--both physically and psychologically. As a budding legal professional and Black woman, I believe it is my duty to shed light on the numerous ways the legal system works against my community and to work to dismantle all forms of racism in the legal institution. As Executive Director of Internal Affairs at LS4BL, I help mobilize law students at the University of Texas School of Law, cultivate relationships with Texas Law's administration, advocate for institutional changes at the law school, and center Black voices within the legal system and the larger community. I am a current intern at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Educational Fund, Inc. My favorite hobby is reading African American literature. Some of my favorite works include "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison, "Beloved" by Toni Morrison, and "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," as told by Alex Haley. Fun fact: I was born with red hair and so was Malcolm X--my nickname as a child was "Red," and his nickname in youth was very similar: "Detroit Red”! At Texas Law, I am active in the Thurgood Marshall Legal Society, Public Interest Law Association, Southwest Black Law Students Association, and Civil Rights Clinic. I was also a Racial Equity Fellow at the Texas Law Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic. At the end of the day, without struggle, there can be no progress. I fight for a purpose that is bigger than I am, and for an equitable society not yet realized, but envisioned. And if I can dream it, I can defend it.
Ayo Adaranijo, University of Texas School of Law, Class of 2022
Co-Executive Director 2020-2021
As Executive Director of External Affairs, I manage teams and collaborate with the other directors on projects. I manage the day to day operations of the organization. I come up with and implement ideas for the organization and to push forward our values and mission. I work to build relationships outside the law school (with main campus, law firms, non-profits, and lawyers) to help create changes within the law school, our local community, and the legal system. My goal is to make sure LS4BL has the right resources outside of the law school. I co-founded LS4BL because- a) non-productive grieving is exhausting for me. I needed to do something, long term, that will help me channel all the frustration I was feeling with the legal system. b) I am a law student, and that's a privilege. It's important for individuals to always recognize the privilege we have and use it for good. I split my summer between Jones Day and Sidley Austin. I mostly worked on transactional/corporate law matters. I had the chance to work on projects related to COVID-19 and how contracts will be treated given the unprecedented pandemic and governmental orders. It may sound boring but I love that stuff lol. I hope to work on some emerging enterprises pro bono projects this summer and give back to communities that are important to me. I am reading a lot of African literature (fiction and non-fiction). I am currently reading "Welcome to Lagos" a book about soldiers who deserted the Nigerian army because their commander was giving inhumane orders. Next on my list is "A place for us". Other orgs- TMLS, SBA, and the Southwest BLSA.
Sheela Ranganathan, University of Texas School of Law, Class of 2022
Chief of Staff 2020-2021
My role is to help Ayo and Alyssa to execute their vision for the group, primarily by taking some of the logistics and administrative burden off their plates. They are both incredible leaders and I would 1000% be their chief of staff if they ran for president someday.
I got involved with LS4BL because I was searching for ways to use my privilege as a law student. We can’t do much with a year of 1L classes, but we can at least come together and advocate for change within our own campus and city. It doesn’t matter whether we want to work in big law, public interest, or government in the long run—I think regardless, every lawyer and law student should be mindful of 1) how we are players in a system that was built to perpetuate racial disparities and 2) what tangible actions we can incorporate into our legal practice to break that system down.
This summer, I split between clerking at Jackson Walker and researching legal issues for Rep. Mary González. My hobbies include CrossFit, singing, and petting my dog. Aside from LS4BL, I’m an incoming Dean’s Fellow and VP of APALSA.