CAMDEN — The decision to become an attorney is monumental. For Angella Middleton, that decision became apparent as a high school student in Philadelphia. As part of a mock trial program at Franklin Learning Center High School, the Collingswood resident knew her career path included a legal education. Now a student at Rutgers School of Law–Camden, Middleton is working to not only connect urban youth with legal educators, but to honor attorneys of color who have inspired her.
As president of the Black Law Students Association at Rutgers School of Law–Camden, Middleton is proud to help generate funding for the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project while honoring three community leaders at the 17th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Champions of Social Justice Awards Banquet on Thursday, Jan. 24.
“Having that big picture goal of law school in mind throughout high school, I was able to direct and steer my educational choices, which kept me on the path to becoming an attorney,” says the Rutgers Law student. “The honorees’ life work and career work has accomplished strides not just in the legal profession, but in serving their communities and making opportunities available for young people of color in urban communities.”
This year, the honorees are Felix James, executive director of the Camden Center for Youth Development; the Honorable A. Michael Shipp, U.S. District Court Judge for the U.S. District Court of New Jersey; and Danielle Banks, partner at Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young.
The annual banquet recognizes the contributions of individuals whose commitment to social justice and equality invoke the spirit and ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It will be held during 6 to 9 p.m. in the Rutgers–Camden Campus Center on Third Street between Cooper Street and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.
The Champions of Social Justice Awards Banquet has honored 78 community leaders since 1997. A committee of students and faculty advisors representing BLSA considers nominees’ impact on society, public service, length of their service, and leadership qualities.
A 1998 Rutgers Law graduate, James has served as legal counsel and coordinator for legal education programs developed in relation with the Constitutional Court of South Africa and the Cuban government. He is the former associate provost of university outreach and new program development at Rutgers–Camden. As a Rutgers Law student, he co-founded the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Champions of Social Justice Awards Banquet.
A former law clerk for Justice James H. Coleman of the New Jersey Supreme Court, Shipp worked as an associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and in the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, first as an Assistant Attorney General in charge of Consumer Protection and later as Counsel to the Attorney General. In 2007, he was appointed as a Magistrate Judge of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, holding that position until his elevation to District Judge on that court.
Danielle Banks represents companies and individuals in employment law matters, including claims brought under Title VII, Section 1981, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. In addition to commercial and employment litigation, Banks has handled cases involving constitutional torts on behalf of plaintiffs, including the MOVE case, a high-profile civil rights trial in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. She is chair of the firm’s Diversity Group, served on Stradley Ronon’s Hiring Committee for a two-year term, and serves as chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Justice Sonia Sotomayor Diversity Award Committee.
This year, proceeds from the banquet will benefit a team of Camden high school students who are preparing to compete in a national moot court competition in Washington, D.C. in March. Rutgers–Camden law students involved with the high school students through the Marshall-Brennan Program help prepare the team every week. The program helps the Camden’s high school students gain a broader understanding of the freedoms outlined in the U.S. constitution.
Tickets for the event are $50 for the general public, $40 for Rutgers–Camden faculty and past honorees, and $20 for Rutgers–Camden students. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
Tickets can also be purchased until Jan. 24 in the Clark Commons at the Rutgers School of Law–Camden from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m.
Media Contact: Cathy K. Donovan