By Camille Moore and Ashley Graves, Legal Interns
Upon meeting one another, it was apparent that we had a lot of similarities. Namely, we were both raised by parents who were committed to educating us about our privilege and how to use it to better our community. Camille’s mother was a substance abuse counselor who empowered individuals to take back their lives and find their purpose. Both of Ashley’s parents grew up during the civil rights movement and ensured that she understood the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the law’s widespread impact on people’s lives, especially Black people. We were both greatly shaken by the repeated instances of cruelty against Black people by law enforcement seen in the Summer of 2020 and the overall historic Black trauma was distressing to witness and experience. We both knew that law school would give us a path to rectify some of the injustices we witnessed. We both ended up going to the University of Denver (DU) Sturm College of Law.
Before joining ACLU of Colorado, we both served as officers for DU’s Black Law Student Association (BLSA). As president (Camille) and Vice President (Ashley,) we helped students navigate law school. We also participated in discussions with DU’s administration on how to make its law school a more welcoming and inclusive place for Black students. Our primary focus was on building community and connecting Black students with prominent Black attorneys and judges in the Denver community. We were both acutely aware of the ACLU’s position in the civil rights world. We had always dreamed of working with the ACLU and becoming part of the organization’s efforts to enact widespread reform.
However, we were also hesitant. Working for the ACLU is an incredibly competitive process, and we worried about how we would compare to our peers, many of whom have family members who are attorneys or judges, thus making them more comfortable navigating law school and job applications, simultaneously. We were incredibly thankful to have been selected from a qualified group of candidates to work for an organization that not only shares our principles, but also values our contributions.
This organization does wonderfully essential work, and we jumped at the chance to protect vulnerable communities. Throughout our time with ACLU of Colorado, we have been able to advocate for issues that we deeply care about. Namely, we helped advocate for people with prior felony convictions to run for office, unhoused people, and LGBTQ+ students.
It is important to note that we felt valued and welcomed at ACLU of Colorado. We never questioned if we belonged here because the staff respected our experiences and perspectives. It is unfortunate our summer with the ACLU has ended, as there is a multitude of issues we would like to continue assisting with. The work fighting for civil rights and civil liberties is ongoing, and we know that we will be dedicating our careers to challenging injustices. It was empowering to fight alongside ACLU of Colorado and learn how to be stronger advocates for our future clients. We truly felt like we got to better the community, which has been a goal we both share since joining law school.