November 30, 2018: State Bar Association Presents Haywood Burns Award to Esmerelda Simmons of the Center for Law and Social Justice

By Communications Department

The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) hosted the 2018 Haywood Burns Award Ceremony and Symposium at CUNY School of Law in Long Island City on Wednesday night, recognizing the work of individuals who have contributed to New York State while upholding the ideals of former CUNY Law Dean Haywood Burns.

The event concluded with the presentation of the Haywood Burns Memorial Award to Esmeralda Simmons, Esq., executive director of the Center for Law and Social Justice (CLSJ) at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. The annual award is given by NYSBA’s Committee on Civil Rights.

Ms. Simmons is a prominent and highly respected civil rights attorney who focuses on protecting the rights of African descendants and the disenfranchised. As the founding executive director of the CLSJ, she has overseen racial justice public policy campaigns and litigation on behalf of community organizations. In her legal work, Ms. Simmons has specialized in racial justice issues such as voting rights, education inequality, cultural rights and human rights violations in the U.S.

“Like Haywood Burns, in whose honor the award is named, Ms. Simmons has viewed the law not as a path to power and prestige, but rather, as a path to empower the powerless,” said NYSBA President Michael Miller at the award ceremony. “Her choice to work locally for more than 40 years using advocacy, community education, coalition-building and organizing methods has been impactful to so many underserved communities.”

The Haywood Burns Memorial Award is presented each year and is named in honor the former CUNY Law School dean, who died in 1996. Dean Burns was an activist, attorney and civil rights advocate with a passionate commitment to human rights that led him to engage in struggles against racism and economic and social injustice in the U.S. and around the world.

About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, the Association has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.


Contact: Brendan Kennedy
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