The Southern Education Foundation (SEF) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) announced that the first Lynn Walker Huntley Social Justice Fellowship has been awarded to Harvard Law School student Harry Chiu.
Lynn Walker Huntley was a trailblazing lawyer who was deeply involved in a wide spectrum of civil rights cases and causes who died in 2015.
Among her many accomplishments, she was the first Black woman to serve as Editor of the Columbia Law Review, the first Black woman to head the Special Litigation Section in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and the first woman president of the Southern Education Foundation.
The two-year fellowship, offered to third-year law students, prepares early-career attorneys for education advocacy work in the Southern United States on behalf of students of color and students from underserved communities.
Chiu, a native of Vancouver, Canada, holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of British Columbia and will graduate from Harvard Law School in May 2022. He is also a former teacher.
He has experience in LGBTQ+, special education, and youth law. Last year, he provided legal research in the Fulton v. City of Philadelphia Supreme Court case, which reviewed a municipal decision denying government contracts to religious foster care agencies that refuse to serve same-sex couples.
Through Harvard’s Education Law Center earlier this year, he leveraged his personal identity as a gay Asian man to help Asian and LGBTQ+ students successfully lobby state legislators to continue funding a program to create trauma-sensitive learning environments.
“I believe that children deserve to live in a world where schools are funded sufficiently and equitably; where diversity is welcomed, not policed; where students with different learning and behavioral needs are supported, not sidelined; and where everyone feels not only safe, but empowered to be who they are,” Chiu said. “The Lynn Walker Huntley Social Justice Fellowship affords me the opportunity to work alongside two of the top organizations leading this important work and I am honored to serve.”
The fellowship is a joint program of SEF and the SPLC.
Chiu’s work, which begins in September 2022, will focus on education equity advocacy through research, policy analysis, and litigation in five key states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
The two-year program will culminate with a final report or project that describes the progress made on a key education issue as a result of the work.
“Harry’s demonstrated deep and continuing commitment to education equity and his impressive background and experience will serve him well as a Lynn Walker Huntley Social Justice Fellow,” said Raymond Pierce, President and CEO of the Southern Education Foundation. ‘The important work he will be doing with the Southern Education Foundation and the Southern Poverty Law Center will go a long way in helping to achieve education equity in the South.”
“Education is the cornerstone of our democracy and vital to achieving racial and social justice in our society,” said the SPLC President and CEO Margaret Huang. “The SPLC, alongside the Southern Education Foundation, is thrilled to offer the Lynn Walker Huntley Fellowship to Harry Chiu, a driven young lawyer who has demonstrated a commitment to ensuring all students have access to a high-quality education and supportive learning environment. We look forward to his contributions to this important mission.”