The African-American Experience in the Massachusetts Courts


BOSTON -- Long Road to Justice: The African American Experience in the Massachusetts Courts, an exhibition that shows how Massachusetts courts shaped and were shaped by the African-American experience, opens Friday, January 17, 2003 in Suffolk University Law School's Adams Gallery. (The exhibit will run through April 15, 2003.)

Long Road to Justice: The African American Experience in the Massachusetts Courts is a multimedia journey through historical artifacts, photographs and court records exploring the relationship between the African-American community and the Massachusetts justice system from the colonial period to the present day.

“In Massachusetts, and in our court system especially, history is revered, but it is an incomplete history," said Associate Superior Court Justice Julian T. Houston, Project Chairman. "These African-American pioneers of liberty and justice live mainly on the frayed pages of law books, dusty and unopened. Long Road to Justice brings them to life.”

"Suffolk University Law School is very pleased to present this exhibit showing how the Massachusetts legal system helped further the cause of freedom for African-Americans who stood up to fight for their rights," said Robert H. Smith, Dean of the Law School.

Long Road to Justice: The African American Experience in the Massachusetts Courts depicts the struggle of African-Americans for racial justice by focusing on three areas: slavery, equal education and African-Americans as judges, lawyers, litigants and jurors. The modular exhibit with interactive features and an accompanying video
highlights prominent cases and figures, all of which come together to demonstrate five key themes:

• The rights that African-Americans have established through constant challenge, from the Colonial era forward, benefit all of us, regardless of cultural heritage.
• African-Americans have achieved justice through perseverance, courage and personal risk.
• The struggle for racial justice is frequently waged by coalitions of blacks and whites; men and women of both races wrestling with questions of individual choice and collective responsibility.
• The fight for racial justice for African-Americans often begins with a willingness of a courageous few to stand against opposition from the larger community.
• The events that took place in the past have tremendous bearing on the present and will influence the future. There is still work to be done to achieve racial justice.

The Justice George Lewis Ruffin Society, founded in 1984 to promote the advancement of minorities in criminal justice, is the exhibition’s principle sponsor.

The exhibition is accompanied by curriculum materials for middle and high school students.

For more information, please contact:
Mariellen Norris at 617-573-8450 or
Tony Ferullo at 617-573-8448

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