Street Law Students Tell Their Stories

December 3, 2014 —

The 250 high school students participating in this year’s “Know Your Rights” Exhibition may not have known the exact language of the D.C. Human Rights Act when they began working with Georgetown Law students through the D.C. Street Law Program this fall. Yet they all had stories to tell — from parents going to court to get educational services for an autistic sibling to a classmate just trying to fit in. 

On November 19, the Law Center’s Street Law clinic and the D.C. Commission on Human Rights teamed up to showcase more than 140 creative expressions of those stories through essays, poems, posters, films, drawings, cartoons, songs and even Powerpoint presentations. The fourth annual High School Student Human Rights Multimedia Exhibit was held in and around Hart Auditorium.

“Under the Human Rights Act, there are 19 traits that are protected and the students can pick any of those traits, whatever is important to them,” explained Judge David C. Simmons (L’84), chief administrative law judge of the D.C. Commission on Human Rights, who first conceived of the exhibition idea. (Simmons is also an adjunct professor at the Law Center.)

Monica Palacio (L’93), director of D.C.’s Office of Human Rights — which includes the D.C. Commission — said the excitement of the exhibit has only grown over the past four years. “The [high school] students pass on the message that this is a fun project to do; they get a lot out of it.”

As do Georgetown’s 15 D.C. Street Law clinic students teaching the Human Rights Act in D.C. high schools. “We worked really hard to help our law students make the individual rights projects come alive for the high school students,” said clinic director Rick Roe.

“We realized that what matters is that each student has their own individual personality, their own inside lives, their own distinct fundamental, recognizable set of goals.”  

Law Fellows Efrain Marimon (L’18) and Jessica Gallagher (L’19) and Associate Dean Gregory Klass welcomed the students to a brief awards ceremony, recognizing them in more than a dozen categories. When asked what they learned from the project, a Thurgood Marshall Academy student said, “We all have a right to live. We all have a right to do whatever we choose.”

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