Crown Heights

Attorney honored for work with Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers

December 6, 2018 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Pictured from left: Cynthia Rountree, Michael Miller, Esmeralda Simmons, Matthew Alpern, Chair of the Committee on Civil Rights, Hanna Madbak and Robert Seidenberg. Photo by Alexa Hoyer

The New York State Bar Association honored attorney Esmeralda Simmons during the 2018 Haywood Burns Award Ceremony and Symposium that was held in Queens on Wednesday, Nov. 28.

Simmons is the executive director of the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights. The annual award is given by the NYSBA’s Committee on Civil Rights and is meant to recognize the work of people who have contributed to the state while upholding the ideals of former CUNY Law School Dean Haywood Burns.

“Like Haywood Burns, in whose honor the award is named, Ms. Simmons has viewed the law not as a path to power and prestige, but rather, as a path to empower the powerless,” said NYSBA President Michael Miller. “Her choice to work locally for more than 40 years using advocacy, community education, coalition-building and organizing methods has been impactful to so many underserved communities.”

Simmons is known for her work as a civil rights attorney and is the founding executive director of the CLSJ. She has often overseen racial justice public policy campaigns and litigation on behalf of community organizations. She specializes in voting rights, education inequality, cultural rights and human rights violations in the U.S.