Blackshear Gala celebrates College of Law diversity

The University of Tennessee College of Law honored two of its alumni and three current students during the 19th Annual Julian Blackshear, Jr. Gala on Feb. 8.

The Blackshear Gala, named for one of the college’s first African American graduates, serves as a fundraiser for diversity education.

Keynote speaker and alumna Danielle Whitworth Barnes, commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Human Services, encouraged the College of Law community to embrace servant leadership and recognize opportunities to changes lives.  

“As a servant leader, I had to figure out my main goal was not to serve myself or my agency, but to serve others,” Barnes said.

As a member of the Governor’s Cabinet, Barnes served former Gov. Bill Haslam and has been reappointed to serve Gov. Bill Lee. The Tennessee Department of Human Services annually provides services to more than two million Tennesseans through a variety of programs, and Barnes oversees a $2.6 billion budget and nearly 5,000 employees.

Also as part of the gala activities, students Shannador McClain, Daniel Zydel and Chidimma Nwaneri were recognized by the Black Leadership Student Association for their commitment to leadership and diversity at the College of Law. 

Dean Melanie Wilson also recognized adjunct professor and attorney Brooklyn Sawyers Belk with the RBJ Campbelle Award for her “courageous, selfless, and ongoing commitment to fairness and equality for all people.”