As part of a talk kicking off the University’s celebration of Black History Month, Chief Justice Richard A. Robinson inspired students by discussing his path to success, the courts’ ability to enact change, and our enduring responsibility to advance social justice.
February 8, 2019
Rachelle Delcis ’21, a criminal justice major, was one of the many students in the audience as the University of New Haven's Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion launched its celebration of Black History Month with a talk by Connecticut Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard A. Robinson.
Delcis listened as Robinson highlighted the achievements of several prominent African American leaders – including newly elected Connecticut Congresswoman Jahana Hayes and retired four-star general Colin Powell. The sentiment she appreciated the most was Robinson’s message that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream and his call to action remain relevant today.
"I enjoyed Justice Robinson’s address," said Delcis. "It motivated me to continue to work hard and to pursue my goals."
"My faith in the rule of law runs deep. Dr. King called upon us to be inspired, to keep the faith. The task is mighty, but so is our commitment."Chief Justice Richard A. Robinson
A champion of civil rights and the importance of fostering cultural competence, Justice Robinson was appointed as a justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court in 2013 and the chief justice in 2018. His path to success, though, wasn’t a straight one, and he spoke of his struggle to find a job after graduating from law school.
Still, he persevered, and he told students that the courts can be a powerful force in advancing social justice.
"Yes, the system is flawed, but if there’s anything that will sustain this nation, it’s the rule of law," Justice Robinson said. "My faith in the rule of law runs deep. Dr. King called upon us to be inspired, to keep the faith. The task is mighty, but so is our commitment."
Justice Robinson concluded his talk by explaining how our perceptions can lead to prejudices – even unconsciously. As part of his talk, he conducted a brief bias training, which enabled students to see how their individual judgments can impact their view of the world.
"For the Chief Justice to tell us what he’s been through will help a lot of people," said Jessica Phillips-Harris ’21, a psychology major with a concentration in forensic psychology. "I think his implicit bias training was especially helpful. He’s a very eloquent speaker, and I believe that students learned a lot from listening to him speak."