Advancing Racial Equity in the South Through Research and Impact Litigation

A joint project of the Southern Education Foundation (SEF) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the Lynn Walker Huntley Fellowship will help early-career attorneys develop the skills and experience they need to advance racial justice in education through impact litigation an state and federal advocacy. The goal is to build a pool of in-house legal staff to support efforts to increase educational opportunities for students of color and students from low-income families in the southern states.

During their two-year tenure, the Lynn Walker Huntley Social Justice Fellow will:

  • assist SEF’s Government Affairs and Advocacy team with developing and implementing strategies to advance education equity policies at local, state, and federal levels;
  • research and identify education justice issues to advance through legislation and litigation, with a particular focus on racial justice and opposing school privatization and classroom censorship;
  • conduct impact litigation under the mentorship of the Children’s Rights practice group at SPLC ; and
  • hold advocacy trainings for SEF staff and other equity-minded stakeholders.

At the conclusion of the fellowship, each fellow will produce a report or project describing the progress made on a key education equity issue as a result of their contributions.

Lynn Walker Huntley Social Justice Fellows will concentrate their activity in five key states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi. One fellowship will be selected each year, primarily serving on-site at the SEF headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

The fellowship honors the rich legacy of Lynn Walker Huntley, a trailblazing lawyer and architect in philanthropy who was deeply involved in a wide spectrum of civil rights cases and causes. Among her many accomplishments, Lynn Walker Huntley was the first Black woman to serve as editor of the Columbia Law Review, the first Black woman to head the special litigation section in the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and the first woman president of the Southern Education Foundation. Fellows will receive ongoing professional development and mentorship from Southern Education Foundation and Southern Poverty Law Center.

“Lynn Walker Huntley’s vision, tenacity, and humanity showed all of us working at the Legal Defense Fund how to advocate for clients. She made sure that the journey to assure quality education without regard to race, wealth or zip code was generational work.”

– Deval Patrick, Former Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Harry Chiu is currently serving as the inaugural Lynn Walker Huntley Social Justice Fellow, with his term ending in summer 2024. SEF and SPLC will begin accepting applications for the Lynn Walker Huntley Social Justice Fellowship in September 2023. The fellowship will begin in 2024.

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