My Summer Advancing Civil Rights in Education and Voter Protection

After almost a year of planning, I landed in Washington D.C. the day before Memorial Day. In the end, I will have spent over 10 weeks living and working in the Nation’s Capitol. While here, I have lent my hand to important work in the Civil Rights field, been a part of a movement, and even crossed off a few things from my bucket list.

Last summer I made the decision to spend the summer after my 2L year in Washington D.C. I was fortunate enough to attend the Equal Justice Works Career Fair held in Crystal City in late October, 2012.  While there, I interviewed with the Advancement Project. An internship offer came later that fall. After completing my law school finals, with a clear head and sure heart, I accepted the offer to be a summer intern at the Advancement Project.

Advancement Project (AP), established in 1999, works with community partners across the country to advance the Civil Rights movement in areas of education, voter protection, and rights restoration. To build movements that change laws and policies, AP knows it has to reach the hearts and minds of people on the ground. Through organizing, communications, and legal analysis, AP strives to do just that. It has come as no surprise that my time as an intern has been filled with assignments that help sustain movements for positive change.

Since I began my internship, I have helped Virginia residents get their voting rights restored, examined a student’s right to due process in public schools, and researched voting rights cases from around the country. I also participated in meetings with community partners and observed the Senate Mark-up on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. And in what is my favorite experience I have had this summer, I attended the Moral Monday demonstrations at the state capitol in North Carolina. I assisted in the demonstrations as a legal observer but also helped the NAACP collect information from the estimated 5,000 people in attendance. It was truly a moving experience!

In addition to the important work I have been doing with AP, I have also had the opportunity to experience a bit of life in D.C. I have been to many of the monuments and visited the museums. I also was able to watch the Independence Day Fireworks from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial -- something I have wanted to do since I remember watching them on PBS when I was 8 years old!

Overall, I have had an incredible experience in Washington, D.C. The summer has gone by too quickly but I have enjoyed every moment of it. I am looking forward to spending the remainder of the year with my OU Law family but I will remember the summer fondly.

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