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NAACP President Presents Inaugural Diversity Lecture

Home Law School News NAACP President Presents Inaugural Diversity Lecture

Alumnus Derrick Johnson ’97, president and CEO of the NAACP, addressed a standing-room-only crowd Tuesday, Oct. 4 as he delivered the inaugural lecture for The Benny J. Agosto, Jr. Diversity Center at the South Texas College of Law Houston.

Urging members of the legal community to “force the Constitution to live up to its promise,” Johnson spoke passionately about the need to support diversity and strengthen democracy.

“Democracy is messy and none of us has all the answers,” he said. “But we all have a piece of the solution, which means we must work together. It’s our job to make possible what others think is impossible.”

“We are excited to launch our Agosto Lecture Series with an alumnus who is a champion for civil rights and racial justice,” said South Texas Law’s Dean and President Michael F. Barry. “Derrick Johnson’s inaugural lecture today is the first of many conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal community.”

The center, founded with a $3 million donation from alumnus Benny Agosto, Jr. ’95 and his wife, Nichole, will host prominent scholars, thought leaders, and innovators who can foster important conversations — both inside the law school and in the larger legal community.

“Our differences make us stronger,” said Benny J. Agosto, Jr. ’95 in his remarks. “Diversity creates firsts, and to be the ‘first’ is to be free of the restraints of history.” He encouraged those present to “set remarkable goals.”

The Agosto Diversity Lecture series aims to engage STCL Houston students and the legal community on diverse topics, fully embracing the conversations and public policy surrounding diversity and what it
means to be a lawyer in a pluralistic society.

Johnson thanked the Agosto family and praised STCL Houston’s leadership for “creating a space at the
law school that is welcoming and inclusive – and leading important conversations about diversity.”

“We are grateful to the Agosto family for making the center possible and we appreciate Mr. Johnson for launching the center’s Diversity Lecture Series with such an excellent presentation,” said Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Professor of Law Shelby Moore.

About the Distinguished Speaker

Derrick Johnson ’97 serves as president and CEO of the NAACP, a position he has held since 2017. Johnson formerly served as vice chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors and as state president for the Mississippi State Conference NAACP. A longstanding member and leader of the NAACP, Johnson has helped guide the association through a period of re-envisioning and reinvigoration.

Under his leadership, the NAACP has undertaken such efforts as the 2018 “Log Out” Facebook Campaign, pressuring Facebook after reports of Russian hackers targeting African Americans; the Jamestown-to-Jamestown Partnership, marking the 400th year enslaved Africans first touched the shores of America; and the 2020 We are Done Dying Campaign, exposing the inequities embedded into the American healthcare system and the country at large.

Born in Detroit, Johnson attended Tougaloo College in Mississippi. He then received his J.D. degree from South Texas College of Law Houston. He completed fellowships with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the George Washington University School of Political Management, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has served as an annual guest lecturer at Harvard Law School and as an adjunct professor at Tougaloo College.

About South Texas College of Law Houston
South Texas College of Law Houston is one of America’s most diverse law schools in America’s most diverse city. In 1923, the YMCA established the law school to offer night classes for working professionals. Today, the ABA-accredited, independent law school in downtown Houston offers both full-time and part-time schedules to earn a J.D. degree. STCL Houston, recognized nationally as an advocacy powerhouse, provides an exceptional legal education featuring renowned faculty and nationally recognized, experienced-based learning. The law school’s 16,000-plus alumni lead and serve with distinction as Texas Supreme Court justices, Fortune 500 CEOs, Tier 1 attorneys, state and national officials, judges, law professors, and more.

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