Georgia State College of Law alumnus, Mawuli Davis (J.D. ’02), returned to campus on August 28 to deliver the Center for Access to Justice Public Interest Keynote address. He is the co-founder of Davis Bozeman Law Firm and a civil rights activist. Earlier this year, he won the College of Law Ben F. Johnson Award, which is the law school’s highest honor.
Davis started his presentation with the song “Dedication” by the late rapper Nipsey Hussle and encouraged students to pursue careers in public interest law by posing the questions, “What are you dedicated to?” and “How long should you stay dedicated?”
He shared his journey to public service with a room full of students and faculty and walked them through some of the most significant cases of his career. He described his first civil rights case, which involved a young man named Eric Johnson, who was falsely accused of aiding in an assault. He also recounted one of his most famous cases—defending Basil Eleby, the man accused of setting the fire that burned the I-85 bridge two years ago. The arson charges was dropped and Eleby now works part-time at Davis Bozeman while he finishes school.
Davis said in his speech, “We need you to fight for people who no one else wants to fight for, to take cases no one else wants to take.”
The roots of his dedication to public service were planted at Georgia State Law. He says an Independent Study course on reparations with Professor Natsu Saito opened his eyes. Davis also recalled starting law school and only seeing five other African American men in the room. Three graduated—and one, Robert Bozeman– became the founding partner of his law firm. He encouraged students to make connections with people who share their passions.
“That’s what I believe about Georgia State Law—we have the opportunity to change the world,” Davis said.
His final charge to the students was to take advantage of the guidance and resources available to them in the law school, so that they can “go make it right.”
“You have to see yourself as the doorway to justice for community members who have traditionally been locked up or locked out,” Davis said.
Written by Kelundra Smith