St. John’s Law Alumni Establish Student Scholarship for Black and Latino Men

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Charles L. Kellar ’41

When the successful New York City lawyer and former NAACP Brooklyn chapter president Charles L. Kellar ’41 arrived in Nevada in 1959, the state had no Black attorneys. As an emissary of his NAACP colleague Thurgood Marshall, Kellar was on a mission to change that. After passing the Nevada bar exam with an almost perfect score, he fought for five years to be admitted to practice and made his mark over a long career fighting for desegregation in the state’s gaming industry, public schools, and housing, among other efforts.

Kellar’s legacy as a pioneering civil rights lawyer and changemaker lives on at St. John’s Law through the Charles L. Kellar ’41 Scholarship, thanks to the generosity of a group of alumni who came together in 2018 to support Black and Latino male students in this meaningful way.

“The struggle for social justice has many heroes, and Charles L. Kellar is one of them,” says Michael Henry ’97, speaking for the group of Kellar Scholarship donors. “Inspired by the generosity of Hon. Reinaldo E. Rivera ’76, ‘06HON and other distinguished Law School alumni who have funded student scholarships, we created this opportunity in the same spirit of being legacy-minded and helping others coming behind us to blaze their own trails.”

Entering its third year, the scholarship has already benefited two St. John’s Law students: Devin Fairrow ’20 and Michael Ofori ’21. With the primary goal of lowering the financial barrier that often prevents students from considering, entering, or finishing law school, the initiative carries the commitment of an alumni group that continues to be a source of encouragement, advice, and career support to the scholarship recipients. Those generous donors now include Henry and:

  • Ralph Carter ’14
  • Felix Chevalier ’97
  • Solomon Dailey ‘00
  • Preston Demouchet ’11
  • Steve Fils-Aime ’13
  • Darryl Gibbs ’00
  • Alain Massena ’00
  • Reginald Rasch ’95
  • Hon. Kenneth Thompson, Jr. ’76
  • M. Quentin Williams ‘91

“We’re all so deeply grateful for this opportunity to pay it forward for the next generation of diverse lawyers,” Henry says. “Structural and systemic racism have devastated communities of color, economically and otherwise. As a Vincentian institution, the Law School has a responsibility to be a part of the solution and to help rectify that harm. This scholarship is just one small example of what is possible when a community with a shared history, and shared stake in the present and the future, helps to empower historically disenfranchised persons and make opportunity, through education, more accessible.”