2021 Marshall-Motley Scholars!
Dominique Erney is from Gainesville, Florida. As a student at Harvard University, she sought to educate herself thoroughly on the systemic and historic anti-Black racism in America and gain the skills to dismantle it to make room for a new world. She is driven by the pursuit of racial justice for Black people. Dominique has held internship positions with the ACLU National Prison Project and Justice Policy Institute. Additionally, she was co-chair of Black at Brennan – an internal employee affinity group – where she helped to lead organization-wide and management-level conversations about how the Brennan Center should address systemic racism both externally and internally.
Dominique intends on returning to the South to work on behalf of Black Americans to reimagine the criminal legal system. She will utilize law school to peel back the layers of how racial inequity plays out in society and gain more tools as a changemaker to dismantle unjust systems.
Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Ashley Fox proudly traces her roots to the Mississippi Delta. She attended Washington University where she earned numerous awards and scholarships and held leadership positions within the Association of Black Students. She has a profound passion for racial justice. She has identified numerous disparities facing the Black community, including the grief of premature deaths, income disparities, voter suppression, and more. The human cost of such conditions for Black people – particularly in the South – results in Ashley’s commitment to pursuing the practice of civil rights law.
Ashley is currently the co-director of New Leaders Council, D.C., where she helps to equip and train progressive leaders with skills to advocate, run campaigns, and mobilize networks for diverse causes. She aims to empower Black people to live authentically and work to positively transform their community. Ultimately, she wants to be a leader that loudly advocates for the cause most important to her – racial justice for Black people in the United States.
Briana Hayes derives much of her inspiration from childhood growing up in Baxley, Georgia, where she witnessed racism in her classroom as a child and how it negatively impacted so many students. This gave her the zeal that would catapult her passion for social change forever.
At the University of Georgia, Briana joined a research team focused on rural Black students on their pathways to higher education, resulting in her work on an intervention that will land more rural Black students in four-year institutions across the South. She also founded Appling Vanguard – an organization that helped Appling County work towards social justice and equality. Briana’s political activism was motivated by the death of Ahmaud Arbery, who was killed in the very judicial circuit in which she lives. After working as a community organizer for the Jon Ossoff U.S. Senate campaign, Briana went on to found 12Tomorrow – a grassroots organization that works to improve Black voter turnout in Georgia’s 12th Congressional district.
Briana firmly believes that her life’s purpose is to fight for freedom. As a civil rights attorney, Briana aims to practice law with dignity and protect everyone’s rights in South Georgia.
Princess Jefferson is from Houston, Texas. As a full-time student at Bryn Mawr College, Princess worked 30-hour weeks between 3-5 jobs to provide for her family in Houston. During this time, she continued to excel in her political science academic endeavors and maintain involvement in various organizations on campus. Princess is a first-generation college graduate.
She worked as a social justice outreach consultant for the Career and Civic Engagement Center at Bryn Mawr College. In this role, she worked to increase student activism within the community and develop a social justice framework for the college. She also assisted in re-founding the NAACP chapter at Bryn Mawr and served as its co-president. Princess served as the director of field operations for the judicial campaign for Te’iva Bell in Houston by coordinating voter awareness activities within the community and helping to register people to vote. She is currently a Chapters Fellow at the American Constitution Society – one of only three Black members within the organization – where she assists in coordinating the logistics, funding, and virtual planning on current issues in law for student and lawyer chapters nationwide.
Princess is eager to continue her work in advocacy of social and racial justice. Her passion lies at the heart of bridging structural barriers between underserved groups and resources. She remains committed to uplifting civil rights in addition to promoting equity, equality, and inclusion in the Black community.
Kendell Long is a Dallas, Texas native. Growing up in a state with one of the highest incarceration rates in the country inspired his interest in criminal justice. He attended Georgetown University where he held many leadership positions in their local chapter of the NAACP, including co-president and vice president. At Georgetown, Kendell worked with the Georgetown 272 Advocacy Team to mobilize his student body to vote and pressure their administrators to approve the creation of a fund to provide financial compensation to communities descending from those sold and enslaved by Georgetown. He currently works as a paralegal at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, where he supports and impacts litigation that challenge the conditions of incarcerated D.C residents – who are disproportionately Black.
Kendell’s commitment to racial justice stems from the belief that his existence is tied to his community. He believes that technology will further current criminal justice reforms like promoting fair sentencing and ending cash bail. Kendell will use the law to achieve racial justice for Black communities in the South through criminal justice reform.
Victor Olofin is a South Florida native who graduated from Florida State University, where he studied political science. His interest in civil rights law is rooted in his experiences and understanding that power and representation has always been scarce for Black people in America, particularly in the South.
Victor served the Urban League of Tallahassee as an emergency manager. He also dedicated many of his weekends to volunteering for the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, where he assisted attorneys in helping low-income Atlantans with landlord-tenant disputes. Victor currently works as the Gaining Opportunity From Arrest to Reentry (GOFAR) paralegal for the Orleans Public Defenders, where he helps his team to mitigate collateral consequences of conviction for formerly incarcerated people in Louisiana.
Victor views the South as his home and is dedicated to breaking down institutional barriers in the South with knowledge, compassion, and purpose. He plans to use a law degree to bring much needed change to the criminal justice system that disproportionately targets Black people in America.
Markus Reneau was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is a Hurricane Katrina survivor, and a graduate of Yale. February 26, 2012, marks a trifecta of hallmarks for Markus. It was the day that Trayvon Martin was murdered. It was Markus’s fifteenth birthday. And it was the start of his interest in civil rights litigation.
Attending Yale was a pathway that Markus never knew he had access to, and he demonstrated his passion for this opportunity through his service. At Yale, he joined the Urban Improvement Corps to provide tutoring to local children aspiring to attend college. He also worked with a New Haven, Connecticut, tutoring program called Leadership, Education, and Athletics in Partnership (LEAP), which is founded on the belief that children learn in many ways aside from classroom instruction. He then studied abroad as a Yale Fellow with the Oakham School in England as the only Black faculty member and one of the only Black people in the town of Oakham.
As an investigator for the Orleans Public Defenders, Markus exercises his unique ability to navigate the cultural divide that often derails the progress of justice. In his role as a 2020 presidential election commissioner, he explained many details to Black people that would have otherwise prevented them from voting, including how to search the Louisiana voter database and helping voters to find their precinct, and assisting voters who needed to cast provisional ballots. His efforts to recognize the full humanity of Black people spurs his mission in fighting for justice.
Traelon Rodgers is a Dallas, Texas, native with a remarkable history of civil justice advocacy. He graduated as valedictorian of his class at Dillard University where he was also the President of Student Government and a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.
Traelon’s first call to action came in the form of marching, lobbying, and protesting as he sought justice in response to the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Most recently, Traelon’s activism took the form of leadership as he stood in front of Dallas City Hall with youth from across the city in a student walkout. The act was a manifestation of his passion for educating the children of the United States – whom he recognizes as the leaders of today. Traelon currently serves as a member and an Assistant Secretary for the NAACP National Board; the youngest person to be elected as a national officer of the NAACP. He has been honored with the NAACP NYWC Chairman’s Award, Texas NAACP State Conference Torch Bearers Award, and Overall Best Attorney Award at Rice University’s mock trial tournament.
Traelon has long been committed to fighting for equality and justice in the South and remains driven by the ambition to fight daily for a place in the United States. He plans to leverage litigation as a tool to challenge the policies that negatively impact Black students in America.
Shandrea Sellers is a Montgomery, Alabama, native and graduate of the University of Alabama. After completing her two-year commitment with Teach For America’s Houston Corps at a Title I Public School in the South, Shandrea decided to continue her work in Texas far beyond her required stint.
Determined to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline found in predominantly Black schools, Shandrea has served in many educational roles in Houston. She is currently Assistant Principal at KIPP Sunnyside High School. Shandrea is dedicated to educational equity and has led the effort at her school to eliminate zero-tolerance policies that disproportionately affect Black male students.
Shandrea’s constancy to the marginalized communities she serves blossoms from her dedication to people having choice-filled lives. She focuses on empowering students with opportunities for advocacy and agency. Shandrea remains committed to the pursuit of progress and seeks to affect change as a civil rights attorney to combat inequities in education, political reform, and more. Unwilling to compromise excellence, Shandrea remains steadfast in her commitment to the South. She devotedly continues her mission to create transformational change for future generations.
Maydrian Strozier-Lowe is a St. Louis, Missouri, native. While attending Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU), Maydrian studied the inner workings of government to better prepare himself for a career in law. His enthusiasm for political involvement and voting rights activism grew after watching his parents encounter a legal system rife with inequities and lawyers who worked against their interests. Maydrian’s passion comes from knowing that a lawyer dedicated to another’s life can enact tremendous change.
Maydrian simply believes that he is obligated to serve others. While attending PVAMU, he served as the chief of staff for the Student Government Association, as well as President of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Rho Theta Chapter. He currently serves as a legislative assistant in the Texas House of Representatives for state representative Ron Reynolds. He works specifically on issues that disenfranchise Black people, including the right to vote, among other inequalities impacting the Black community. In association with the Political Science Posse at PVAMU, he organized three student marches that protested attempts by Waller County to discount and disenfranchise the student vote; LDF has filed a lawsuit against Waller County on behalf PVAMU students.
Maydrian aims to achieve substantial change for Black people in the South. He boldly promotes the idea of investing today for generations to come, as many once did for him.