Ground Broken in Orlando
For FAMU Law School

Associated Press Writer
November 20, 2003

ORLANDO, Fla. - Florida A&M University broke ground for its new law school campus Thursday, giving the historically black school a permanent home to educate future lawyers for the first time since 1968.

"It's a great feeling to know that the legacy of this institution springs anew," said state Rep. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa. She was one of six people to graduate from that law school's last class. "Now there will be others who have the opportunity to go out and do good for the people."

The school next to the downtown federal courthouse will open in 2005. The four-story, 160,000-square-foot building was designed by architects who graduated from FAMU.

The public university's first law school was established in 1949, and the first class entered two years later. But when the civil rights movement won momentous victories, the Legislature decided that a "separate but equal" school no longer made sense, and the school was shut down after producing 57 graduates.

In 2000, the Legislature re-established the law school in an effort to create more diversity in the state's legal profession. Also receiving a law school was Florida International University in heavily Hispanic Miami.

FAMU's second law school opened last year in temporary quarters with 201 students. The inaugural class of 56 full-time and 32 part-time students will graduate months before the new campus opens.

"Those who came before labored under great odds, they waded through adversity, and now they're recognized as judges and lawyers," FAMU president Fred Gainous said. "The students who are coming now have the responsibility to pick up the mantle and take it even further."

Added 9th Circuit Chief Judge Belvin Perry: "Who knows? Perhaps the next Thurgood Marshall will walk the halls of the FAMU law school."

The groundbreaking came two days before the 23rd annual Florida Classic football game between FAMU and rival Bethune-Cookman. State Rep. Ed Jennings, D-Gainesville, chairman of the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators, said the school will hold annual law conferences in conjunction with the game.