New Jersey State Bar Association - The voluntary Bar Association of New Jersey, serving members since 1899.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 02/07/05
CONTACT:Barbara S. Straczynski
Communications and Marketing Manager
732-937-7524

Attorney General Peter Harvey will be featured speaker at Black History Month Event

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Attorney General Peter Harvey will deliver keynote remarks when the NJSBA Minorities in the Profession Section (MIPS) hosts its Black History Month Awards Ceremony and Reception on Feb. 22, 2005 at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick. The annual event will showcase the winners of the Black History Month Contest for high school students.

Voting rights and Civil War Amendments are at the heart of the topic that high school students will address as participants of the Black History Month Contest sponsored by MIPS this year.

The Association of Black Women Lawyers and the Garden State Bar Association are joining MIPS as cosponsors for the event.

To register, call the NJSBA Meetings Department at 732-249-5000, or visit www.njsba.com and select Meetings Calendar.

“Attorney General Harvey was very instrumental this year in making sure the voting process in New Jersey went smoothly,” said Decanda Faulk, chairperson of the MIPS Black History Month Contest Committee.

“He was also invited to be our keynote speaker because of his continued effort to protect the voting rights of minority populations and for his unwavering commitment to American democracy.”

The topic for the high school Black History Month Contest is “Disenfranchisement of the Minority Voter,” and asks, why is it important that African-American and other minority youth vote? Students will also be required to answer whether or not they will register to vote when they turn 18, and explain why or why not.

Questions about presidential elections since 2000 and the recent efforts by celebrities encouraging the youth vote led the MIPS Black History Month Contest Committee to choose the topic.

“We thought this would be a hot button topic and would inspire students to become more active in the whole voting and election’s process,” said Faulk.

Students must take into consideration the historical context of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, collectively known as the Civil War Amendments, in preparing their contest entries. The 13th Amendment abolished slavery, the 14th Amendment established citizenship rights of persons born in the United States and required that no one be denied due process and equal protection of the laws, and the 15th Amendment secured the right to vote for all citizens regardless of a person’s race, color or former condition of servitude.

“Our committee encourages everyone, particularly young people to take a historical look at the right to vote and understand that people died to give us that right. If you’re not going to be a part of process, then don’t complain when it doesn’t work to your benefit. We would also like to help the students understand that there is power in exercising that right to vote,” said Faulk.

Students can submit their entries in the form of an essay, art or speech. Depending on the form category, entries will be judged according to creativity, quality of writing or product, presentation skills and interest to the public. All entries will be reviewed by a panel of three judges.

The first place winner will receive a $250 American Express gift card/cheque and a plaque. Second place will receive a $100 gift certificate for a performance at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark and a plaque. Third place will receive a $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a plaque.

The contest announcement has been distributed to New Jersey high schools and MIPS Chair Denelle Waynick is encouraging section members to provide contest information to school officials that they may know. Any NJSBA member who knows of an educator who may be interested in the project should contact Cynthia Pellegrino at 732-937-7507, or email cpellegrino@njsba.com.

The deadline for contest entries is Feb. 11, 2005. Contestants will be notified of the results of the competition by telephone and by mail on or before Feb. 18, 2005.

The New Jersey State Bar Association, incorporated in 1899, is dedicated to the continuing education of lawyers and the public, to reforming and improving the legal system and to aiding in the administration of justice.

- NJSBA -