OXFORD, Miss. – Terrence Hunter’s goal is to help disadvantaged African-Americans and their communities. His passion for civil rights was the driving force behind his decision to attend law school.
This summer, the second-year student in the University of Mississippi School of Law will begin making his dream a reality by interning with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in New York.
“The LDF is the premier organization that fights for racial equality,” said Hunter, of Natchez. “By having the opportunity to work at the LDF, I could have the potential to significantly impact African-American communities in this country.”
Hunter, who earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Tougaloo College before enrolling in law school, is among 11 students around the country selected for the prestigious internship. His colleagues come from top law schools, including Yale, Harvard, Columbia and New York universities and the Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University.
“Being selected as an intern at the LDF means that I have a responsibility to show the LDF and other national firms and organizations that UM law students are just as well-educated as Ivy League law students,” he said.
During his time at the Ole Miss law school, Hunter has worked with the MacArthur Justice Center clinic. This experience has introduced him to several important civil rights issues in Mississippi.
“Not only am I working on actual cases, I am getting an opportunity to witness the inner workings of Mississippi’s criminal justice system,” he said. “Many of the civil rights issues in America consistently intersect between race and poverty.”
The LDF has been instrumental in the fight for civil rights, and Hunter will continue to fight for racial justice at the LDF headquarters, said Cliff Johnson, UM law professor and MacArthur Justice Center director.
“Terrence’s internship with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, one of the preeminent civil rights law firms in America, is an honor both for Terrence and the University of Mississippi School of Law,” Johnson said. “I know firsthand from Terrence’s work in my clinic that he has the intellect, passion and maturity to handle anything the outstanding lawyers at LDF ask him to do.”
Hunter said his work with the clinic this semester will familiarize him with some of the subject matter to be covered in his internship.
“The UM School of Law gave me the tools to be a successful intern at the LDF, and Tougaloo College instilled in me the confidence needed to reject any notion of intimidation,” he said.
Karen Peairs, assistant director at the law school’s Career Services Office, helped Hunter submit his application to the LDF.
“I’ve worked with Terrence since he was a 1L, and he has always displayed a passion for the civil rights arena,” she said. “His family’s history with the NAACP in Mississippi, coupled with his ‘all-in’ attitude, make him an ideal fit for the work of the Legal Defense Fund work this summer.”
Hunter’s grandfather was president of the NAACP chapter in Natchez, so civil rights work has been a lifelong interest for him. He will intern from May 29 to Aug. 9.