Pitt Law announces Civil Rights and Racial Justice Center

The Pitt School of Law, with startup funding of $250,000 from the Eberly Foundation, is creating a new Civil Rights and Racial Justice Center to facilitate community-engaged teaching, research and service.

The center will serve as an intellectual hub for students, faculty and community members to collaborate on civil rights and racial justice projects, as part of the law school's commitment to legal issues related to civil and human rights.

The center, set to begin its work in 2021, will be headquartered at Pitt Law and will be co-directed during its launch by Sheila Velez Martinez, professor of refugee, asylum and immigration law and director of Clinical Programs, and William M. Carter Jr., an expert on issues of civil rights, race and the law.

Pitt Law Dean Amy Wildermuth said in an online announcement that Velez Martinez and Carter “will foster student’s direct engagement with the issues facing Pittsburgh and the broader Western Pennsylvania region. In all facets, it will be the living embodiment of our law school's commitment to transform our system of justice to ensure equality for all.”

The center will bring together the law school’s and the University’s expertise, as well as community partners, to advance constitutional, legislative and regulatory protections of civil rights at the federal, state and local levels.

To kick off its work, the center is planning both a conference and speakers designed to explore the current issues in our communities. The center also will support several city of Pittsburgh entities that have requested the creation of externships for Pitt Law students to provide much-needed help on various civil rights issues, including reviewing police, housing and prison practices.

Find more details about the center on the Pitt Law website.