USF School of Law Community Celebrates Black History Month

Posted Fri, 03/09/2018 - 14:36

USF School of Law students, faculty, and alumni came together to celebrate Black History Month at a reception Feb. 28 at Jackson Lewis PC. San Francisco City Administrator Naomi Kelly ’01 and Marshal Arnwine 3L shared reflections on their experiences.

Arnwine, who grew up in Compton, California, recounted how he struggled at first at USF but soon found his community in USF’s Black Law Students Association, where he now serves as Student Advisor Chair. He appreciated the support he has received from the law school’s African American faculty and staff, in particular, and encouraged students and alumni to rely on the power of community. “We need to lean on that power in the face of adversity turn to their community for strength,” he said.

After college, Kelly worked for then-Mayor Willie Brown as his liaison to the Western Addition neighborhood, and began rising in the ranks of San Francisco city government when Brown encouraged her to go to law school. After attending USF School of Law, she returned to Brown’s administration and ultimately was appointed the first African American and first female city administrator for the City and County of San Francisco by then-Mayor Edwin Lee.  

“The analytical skills I got from law school help me everyday in what I do in the sense of civic responsibility,” she said. 

She talked about the out-migration of the African American community from San Francisco to Oakland and the East Bay because “there is a social fabric and a social network, where you feel welcome and you don’t feel isolated. Kind of like what the Black Law Students Association is doing for the community here at USF. We struggle with that down at City Hall, because we have the issue of equality versus equity. We’re talking a lot about equity and not getting bogged down by equality.” 

Kelly lauded the efforts of USF’s Engage San Francisco, a program of the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good that features dozens of faculty and student initiatives serving the community of the Western Addition.

“I think that all of us in this room can transform whatever city we’re in, and whatever community we’re in,” she said. “In my position as the city administrator of San Francisco and on the board of USF, I’m here to support you. We can support each other in doing those things.”