CUNY Law School accepting applications for W. Haywood Burns Chair in Human and Civil Rights –

The City University of New York (CUNY) Law School in Long Island City announced the return of the W. Haywood Burns Professorship in Human and Civil Rights in honor of the second dean of the faculty. CUNY Law is accepting nominations and applications for the position of Distinguished Visiting Professor who “elevates the work of racial justice leaders who reflect the qualities and beliefs” of Burns, who was the school’s second dean when he was killed in a car accident in 1996 while attending a democracy conference in South Africa.

The Burns Professorship was established at CUNY Law the same year to honor the pioneer’s commitment to advancing civil and human rights, and his dedication to training lawyers who defend and defend the rights of the most vulnerable in society.

Haywood’s political activism was on display at the age of 15, when he helped incorporate a swimming pool in his hometown of Peekskill, New York. After graduating with honors from Harvard and earning his law degree from Yale, Burns served as first clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Constance Baker Motley. . Then, while serving as assistant counsel for the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, he also served as general counsel for the Reverend Martin Luther King’s poor campaign.

In 1969, Burns helped found and then became the first director of the National Conference of Black Lawyers. He became the first African-American president of the National Lawyers Guild and led both organizations in advocating for international solidarity from Grenada to Namibia. He followed the trials in the first elections in Northern Ireland and South Africa and advised the drafting of the Interim Constitution of South Africa.

He successfully defended racial justice scholar and activist Angela Davis against criminal charges, and he represented 82 incarcerated men facing charges related to the Attic prison uprising.

Burns continually fought racism in his writings and in the courtroom, believing that the law needed a public institution dedicated to recruiting and training lawyers committed to representing those who have been and continue to be underserved, or unserved, by the legal profession.

A recognized authority on constitutional and criminal law, Burns was the founding dean of City College’s Urban Legal Studies program from 1977 to 1987, and later became the first African-American dean of the CUNY School of Law.

“As dean of CUNY Law, Haywood mentored and inspired generations of students, many of whom were the first in their families to attend college or earn a law degree,” said the dean of CUNY Law. CUNY Law School, Sudha Setty. “Today, they are leading efforts to advance justice at a time when CUNY law graduates are needed more than ever.”

A unique opportunity for scholars, legal educators, litigators, and activists, the Burns Chair engages the intellectual and social life of the law school through public lectures, symposia, seminars, class visits, and events. social. The Burns Chair will receive “competitive compensation, research and administrative support, assistance with travel and living expenses, and the unique opportunity to advance their work while engaging the vibrant network of students , CUNY Law social justice lawyers, activists and scholars, locally and internationally,” according to the announcement.

The Burns chair will also support the professional development of CUNY law students through meaningful engagement with courses, clinics, student groups, and the Burns Student Research Fellowship.

“It’s such an exciting and fitting tribute to celebrate Haywood’s legacy as we plan to celebrate our 40th anniversary in 2023,” Setty said.

Nominations and applications for the 2023 Spring Semester Nomination will be open until October 7, although submissions will continue to be accepted on a rolling basis.

For more information, contact Professor Nicole Smith Futrell at

Nancy I. Romero