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MABL Awards Scholarships to Three Law School Students at Gala

             by Maximillia Utley

Bahram Samie (1L), Professor Ruth Okediji, Justin Nishioka (1L) and Dipo Odejide (2L) (L to R)

The Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers (MABL) hosted its annual MABL Foundation Scholarship Gala on November 11, 2006, in Downtown Minneapolis.  MABL was organized in order to promote and support the professional development of black lawyers, judges, and law students in Minnesota, and is committed to the overall goal of representing the interests of Black citizens and their community in the legal profession and the judicial system throughout the state.  The theme behind this year’s Gala was “Confronting the Challenges of a New Era.”



Scholarship Recipients Stephanie Travis (2L), Dipo Odejide (2L) and Maximillia Utley (2L) (L to R)

Through the MABL Foundation, MABL annually selects talented law students throughout Minnesota law schools to receive scholarships.  These select individuals have to demonstrate outstanding academic achievement, commitment to addressing issues affecting their community and the potential to effectuate the overall goals of MABL.  This year, seven scholarships were awarded to Minnesota law students.  Three of these seven scholarships were awarded to University of Minnesota Law Schools students: Stephanie Travis (2L), Dipo Odejide (2L) and Maximillia Utley (2L).  These scholarship awards are presented at the Gala.



Each year the MABL Board selects a Profile in Courage Award winner. This award is given to a prominent member in the Black community who has shown initiative in promoting the goals of MABL.

Bahram Samie (1L) and

Jeff Presley (2L)

This year’s Profile in Courage Award recipient was Keith Ellison. Keith Ellison represents House District 58B in the Minnesota State Legislature and has served two terms in the Minnesota House. Before entering the legislature, Mr. Ellison regularly testified before state congressional committees and legislators, organized citizens to address the issue of police community relations, and was a practicing attorney in private practice. Mr. Ellison is also the former Executive Director of the Legal Rights Center.  Keith Ellison made history on November 7, 2006 when he was nominated to become a representative in the United States Congress.  Mr. Ellison is the first Black representative from Minnesota and will be the first Muslim in American history to be a member in Congress.  Keith Ellison, when accepting his award, honored his former mentor and friend, William E. McGee.


Maximillia Utley,
scholarship recipient

The Keynote Speaker for the Gala was Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. Dr. Dyson is the Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities, and Professor of Religious Studies and Africana Studies, at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Dyson is also a prolific author, having written 13 books in 13 years, tackling controversial subjects, such as Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, the virtues and crises of hip hop culture, racial conflict and black identity, and the racial fallout from Hurricane Katrina. He also wears the hats of scholar, public intellectual, ordained minister, media commentator and talk show host. Dr. Dyson has been named by Essence magazine as one of the most inspiring African-Americans and by Ebony magazine as one of the 100 most influential black Americans.  Dr. Dyson’s speech at the Gala was inspirational, moving and, at times, radical. He urged the professionals present to remember the black community and continue to effectuate the goals of MABL while “confronting the challenges of a new era.”


The Gala was attended by over 425 lawyers, professors, law students, and judges.  The event was sponsored by a number of Minnesota firms and companies, including the University of Minnesota Law School.  This event was attended by Dean Guy Charles, Assistant Dean of Students Erin Keyes, professors from the University of Minnesota Law School, and members of the Black Law Students' Association. 


If anyone is interested in learning more about MABL or the Black Law Students' Association, please contact Maximillia Utley at utle0004@umn.edu.