March 7, 2022 – UH Law Center Dean Leonard M. Baynes ’82 was recognized by the Columbia Black Law Students Association (BLSA) recently as a distinguished alumni honoree at the 28th Annual Paul Robeson Gala. Baynes received an award for his contributions and achievements.
“It was our honor to host UH Law Dean Leonard M. Baynes and to recognize the wonderful work that he has done and continues to do in creating a space for Black students to thrive within the legal profession,” said Columbia J.D. candidate and BLSA member Karla Colley.
Putting Baynes alongside past distinguished alumni honorees such as former U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. ’76, Theodore Shaw ’79 the former Director-Counsel and President of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and Peter C. Harvey ’82, the first African American to serve as the New Jersey Attorney General, BLSA commended Baynes for passion and commitment to diversity and inclusion and his mission objectives parallel to BLSA ambitions. Ms. Colley specifically said that BLSA was inspired by Baynes' “steadfast commitment to and record of championing diversity in the legal field for first generation students, marginalized students, and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds.”
“Columbia Law School's Black Law Students Association made an inspired choice by honoring Leonard Baynes, a distinguished alumnus and a champion for diversity in the great tradition of Paul Robeson and other alumni who have been honored by BLSA in the past,” said Gillian Lester, Dean and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. “I have long admired Len’s scholarship and his commitment to legal education, and I am proud to call him a colleague and friend. His principled leadership is an inspiration to all law students of color as they forge their own legal careers.”
“I am honored and humbled to receive the Paul Robeson Award from my alma mater Columbia Law School,” Baynes said. “As a student, I remembered listening in awe to previous honorees. Never did I think that all these years later I would also be honored for my life’s work. The theme for this year’s Gala centered on ‘finding power in your purpose.’ Academia has provided my life with a great deal of purpose in implementing my vision in helping the world become a much more equitable place. I am sincerely grateful for this incredible recognition.”
Held in February, the event gathered BLSA alumni, students, faculty and friends virtually via Zoom to celebrate the life and legacy of trailblazer Paul Robeson ’23, an influential leader in the performing arts, civil rights and scholarship and Columbia Law School’s first African American graduate.
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