The University of Missouri-Columbia’s Black Law Students Association (MUBLSA) was founded in 1971 as the Black Law Student Society. MUBLSA’s primary purpose is to deal with the special concerns of Black law students and lawyers. The Association acquaints students with the professional opportunities, problems and responsibilities they will have as practicing members of the Bar.
MUBLSA encourages full participation of all students in the activities of the School of Law and the University. It also attempts to foster closer contact with present members of the legal profession. MUBLSA has involved itself in numerous activities in the past, including sponsorship of a statewide advisory group on Black student affairs at the Law School, and group sessions with visiting high school students.
The mission of the University of Missouri chapter of the Black Law Students Association is to address and represent the ideas and concerns of black law students; to develop a relationship between students and practitioners in the legal community; to identify the needs of the community and develop solutions to address some of those needs; and to be of influence within the legal community in such a way that it meets the needs of the black community.
National BLSA History
In 1968, Algernon Johnson “A.J.” Cooper, former mayor of Prichard Alabama , founded the Black American Law Students Association (BALSA) at the New York University Law School . BALSA’s purpose was to effectuate change in the legal system. The association endeavored to sensitize the law and legal profession to the ever-increasing needs of the Black community. This commitment has never wavered.
In 1983, BALSA revised its name. The word “American” was deleted to encompass all Blacks who were not of American nationality. Later, the word “National” was added to reflect the extent to which the organization had expanded.
The National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA), the largest student-run organization in America , has over 200 chapters at law schools throughout the country. This represents almost every ABA accredited law school, plus several non-accredited law schools. These chapters represent over 6,000 Black law students in six regions which encompass 48 states including Hawaii , and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico . Recently, NBLSA established international links with Black law students in Canada , England and South Africa who decided to model their student organizations after NBLSA.
NBLSA’s societal impact is enormous. In its effort to remain responsive to the needs of the Black community in general and the Black law student in particular, the NBLSA has initiated many worthy programs and is often active in joint-effort programming with other organizations that have goals and objectives analogous to its own.
NBLSA continues to conduct its prestigious Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition and expand its national Adopt-A-School Program. In addition, through its Nelson Mandela Scholarship Program, NBLSA awards six scholarships of over $500.00 each to black law students annually. With emphasis on economic self-help, abolishing apartheid, and forwarding a progressive civil rights position, NBLSA continues its strong commitment to the objectives of the Association. Further, the Association maintains strong ties with the National Bar Association, the National Conference of Black Lawyers, the Council on Legal Education Opportunity , and the National Black Leadership Roundtable.