Making History at the Mississippi Law Journal: Nivory Gordon Passes the Torch to Taylor Davis

Nivory Gordon, current Editor-in-Chief of the Mississippi Law Journal, became the first Black student elected to lead the publication. As his term ends this Spring, he hands off the title to Taylor Davis, who is now the first Black woman to be elected to the position. 

OXFORD, Mississippi — For the second consecutive year, history has been made at the University of Mississippi School of Law. Last month, Taylor Davis, a second-year law student, was named Editor-in-Chief of Volume 94 of the Mississippi Law Journal, making her the first African American female and only the second African American to hold the position. Current Editor-in-Chief of Volume 93, Nivory Gordon, a third-year law student, is completing his term this spring after becoming the first African American to hold the lead position on the Journal in its entire history.

The Mississippi Law Journal is a student-run organization at the University of Mississippi School of Law whose primary purpose is to publish legal scholarship since its founding in 1928. The Journal is designed to be an effective tool for legal practitioners and students of the law. It also provides opportunities for Journal members to develop their own legal research and writing skills. The law school’s flagship Journal includes articles written by former Presidents, State and Federal Judges, Mississippi state leaders, academics, practitioners, and students.

Davis, a native of D’Iberville, says that her focus wasn’t on making history when she considered running for the position.

“When I set out to become Editor-in-Chief, I didn’t think of it as this historical thing. It was more so, ‘I feel like I would do well in this job. There are some things that I feel like I can change with the Journal so I’m putting my name in the ring to see if I’m chosen.’”

While Davis has made history within the law school, history isn’t necessarily the only thing she wants people to see. She also wants people to recognize that excellence can appear in a variety of ways.

“We talk about being the first Black woman, and I know that it’s important because it’s historical. What I really want is for people to see me as an Editor-in-Chief and not so much based on my race, because I think it can put a lot of pressure on whoever comes after me,” Davis said. “I want my legacy to be that excellence can come in many different ways.”

The journey wasn’t always easy, and the magnitude of Davis’s accomplishment wasn’t immediately felt. It wasn’t until the newly-named Editor-in-Chief broke the news to her family that she realized how big of an accomplishment it really was.

“When I was actually elected, I didn’t really feel the significance of the position and the history of it until I spoke with my grandfather,” Davis said. “He didn’t finish the sixth grade, and he went on to become a very successful businessman. My father didn’t finish college, and he went on to become a successful businessman. There was a lot of rejoicing from my family. I realized that this meant a lot for other people. I have a lot of responsibility to do well but also a responsibility to be an example for other people, and I don’t take that lightly.”

Davis’s path to excellence isn’t the first of its kind to make its way through the Ole Miss Law School. As it relates to the Editor-in-Chief position, the precedent was set last year with current third-year law student, Nivory Gordon. A native of Selma, Alabama, Gordon, the Journal’s first African American Editor-in-Chief, made his mark last year, saying the accomplishment brought a wave of emotions.

“There was pure shock, and at that moment a little bit of joy. Quickly after that, all focus has been on getting the work done,” Gordon said. “Everything that life has taught me prepared me to step into the role to ensure the Journal is producing excellent legal scholarship.”

Like Davis, Gordon also says that his journey hasn’t been easy, but relying on faith, family, and life experiences has taught him how to not shy away from adversity. Gordon credits his family for teaching him how to weather the storm.

“No matter what you face in life, always give it your best; that was something that my grandmother always told me, that my father always did, something that my mom always had to do,” Gordon said. “Things aren’t always going to be easy, but when you rely on your faith and what you’ve been through in life, you realize that the responsibility wouldn’t have fallen on you if you didn’t have what it took to see it through until the end.”

During the transition process of passing the torch from one editor to the next, being a listening ear for advice is what Gordon says he is happy to do for Davis, but he says allowing her to thrive for the purpose of her own vision is essential.

“When she needs insight, I am there to offer advice based on my experience. The privilege of being the Editor-in-Chief is that your decisions ultimately shape the volume you produce, and those decisions should be unique to her vision and goals,” Gordon said. “Witnessing what she has already done thus far gives me assurance that the Journal is in great hands.”

In addition to seeking advice from her predecessors during her leadership, Davis said that her family’s support means a lot to her.

“When I spoke to my grandfather, he was really excited. That made it clear to me how big this was,” Davis said. “My family is one of my main sources of strength.”

Gordon’s term will end at the end of the Spring semester, and Davis will serve as Journal editor for the 2024-25 academic year. The Mississippi Law Journal publishes annually, and its articles and archives can be found here.

By: A.J. Norwood