National Black Law Students Association ("NBLSA")
The National Black Law Students Association articulates and promotes the needs and goals of black law students and effectuates lasting change in the communities in which we live.
In 1968, Algernon Johnson ("AJ") Cooper, former mayor of Prichard, Alabama, founded the first Black American Law Students Association at the New York University Law School. In 1983, BALSA revised its name and the word "American" was deleted to encompass all blacks, including those not of American nationality. Later, the word "National" was added to reflect the organization's national expansion, which now includes representation in the law schools of forty-eight states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
Today, the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA), is a national organization formed to articulate and promote the needs and goals of black law students and effectuate change in the legal community. As the largest student run organization in the United States with over 6,000 members, NBLSA is also comprised of chapters or affiliates in six different countries including The Bahamas, Nigeria, and South Africa. Organized into six regions (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southern, Mid-West, Rocky Mountain and Western Region), the organization has over 200 chapters and is present in all but a few of the nation's accredited law schools, as well as unaccredited law schools. The headquarters of NBLSA is located in Washington, D.C. NBLSA encourages the development of talented, social conscious lawyers of tomorrow. Each year, the organization holds an annual convention to engage in legal activism and prepare new generations of black lawyers to "effectuate change." Additionally, the Frederick Douglass Moot Court and Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competitions are held during its Annual Convention. Notably, NBLSA assisted in the formation of the Black Law Students Association of Canada (BLSAC), The National Latino/Latina Student Association (NLLSA), National Association of Law Students with Disabilities (NALSD), and The National Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (NAPALSA).
The purpose of NBLSA is to utilize the collective resources of the member chapters to:
- articulate and promote the educational, professional, political, and social needs and goals of Black law students;
- foster and encourage professional competence;
- improve the relationship between Black law students, Black attorneys, and the American legal structure;
- instill in the Black attorney and law student a greater awareness and commitment to the needs of the Black community;
- influence the legal community by bringing about meaningful legal and political change that addresses the needs and concerns of the Black community;
- adopt and implement policies of economic independence;
- encourage Black law students to pursue careers in the judiciary; and
- do all things necessary and appropriate to accomplish these purposes.