ABOVE: Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP attends the PGA Works Beyond The Green at Union League on April 30, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Lisa Lake/Getty Images for PGD Global)
NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson ‘97, a South Texas College of Law (STCL) Houston alumnus, will present the Inaugural Diversity Lecture on October 4th for The Benny Agosto, Jr. Diversity Center at STCL Houston.
Johnson currently serves as president and CEO of the NAACP, a position he has held since 2017. Johnson formerly served as vice chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors and as state president for the Mississippi State Conference NAACP. A longstanding member and leader of the NAACP, Johnson has helped guide the association through a period of re-envisioning and reinvigoration.
Under his leadership, the NAACP has undertaken such efforts as the 2018 “Log Out” Facebook Campaign, pressuring Facebook after reports of Russian hackers targeting African Americans; the Jamestown-to-Jamestown Partnership, marking the 400th year enslaved Africans first touched the shores of America; and the 2020 We are Done Dying Campaign, exposing the inequities embedded into the American healthcare system and the country at large.
Born in Detroit, Johnson attended Tougaloo College in Mississippi. He then received his J.D. degree from South Texas College of Law Houston. He completed fellowships with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the George Washington University School of Political Management, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has served as an annual guest lecturer at Harvard Law School and as an adjunct professor at Tougaloo College.
“We are proud that our distinguished alumnus, Derrick Johnson, will present the inaugural lecture for a center created by another distinguished alumnus, Benny Agosto, Jr., and his wife Nichole,” said South Texas President and Dean Michael F. Barry. “We look forward to the insights Mr. Johnson will bring about the state of our nation regarding relationships among diverse groups, and we encourage everyone to join us for this important lecture.”
The Benny Agosto, Jr. Diversity Center at STCL Houston was established in October 2021 with a $3 million gift from the Agosto family. The gift to Mr. Agosto’s law school alma mater supported two of his passions: giving back to the community and encouraging more diversity in the legal field.
The Agosto Diversity Lecture series aims to engage STCL Houston students and the legal community on diverse topics, fully embracing the conversations and public policy surrounding diversity and what it means to be a lawyer in a pluralistic society. The center will host prominent scholars, thought leaders, and innovative artists who can foster important conversations both inside the law school and in the larger legal community.
“The Benny Agosto, Jr. Diversity Center will place South Texas at the forefront of the conversation on diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in the legal profession – and will allow us to invest in the students who will provide legal services to our diverse community,” said Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Professor of Law Shelby Moore.
Agosto, a 1995 graduate of STCL Houston, has focused much of his career on helping change the face of law to become more diverse. “The legal field is sorely lacking minorities, and I have been proactive in my career to try to change that – starting in the law firm where I work,” Agosto said. “If we don’t do anything differently, 30 years from now the legal profession will look the same as it does today.”
Agosto is a managing partner with Abraham Watkins Nichols Agosto Aziz and Stogner in Houston, the longest standing plaintiffs’ personal injury law firm in Texas. He has been admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of Texas.
The event is scheduled October 4th from 4-5 p.m. in Garrett Townes Auditorium at STCL Houston (1303 San Jacinto St.), with a reception to follow. Participation is free and open to the public, but registration is required.