EJS 20th Anniversary – Reflecting on 2003, Susan Serrano, Anthony Solana, Jr.

Photos by Shu-Jon Mao

2020 is the 20th anniversary of the Equal Justice Society. Every week leading up to our 20th anniversary celebration on September 17, we will highlight one year in our history. This week we remember 2003, former Research Director Susan Serrano, and former board chair Anthony Solana, Jr.

In 2003, the Equal Justice Society ramped up our efforts to influence jurisprudence through amicus briefs. EJS authored and filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Grutter v. Bollinger, arguing in support of the University of Michigan Law School’s admissions program.

That same year, EJS President Eva Paterson debated Ward Connerly regarding his “Racial Privacy Initiative” (California Proposition 54) on National Public Radio. EJS was part of the coalition that helped defeat Prop. 54 in the 2003 special election.

We remain a leader today in the fight to restore affirmative action in California. The Opportunity for All Coalition is supporting ACA 5, which would put a repeal of Proposition 209 on the ballot. Eva is a co-chair of the coalition and EJS staff are helping lead and coordinate various coalition activities.

In 2003, we also co-sponsored the “Colorblind Racism! Mapping a Strategy for Social Justice” conference to develop long-range strategies and create links between progressive individuals and organizations.

The incredible work by Susan Serrano, EJS’s first staffer other than Eva, was critical to all these efforts and laid a critical foundation for our legal efforts in following years. Susan served as Research Director through 2005, a position that evolved over the years into our current Legal Director staff position today.

Susan went on to join the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law where she now serves as Associate Director, Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law, and Director of Research and Scholarship, Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law.

Anthony Solana, Jr. joined the EJS board in 2003 and brought a tenacity for justice and the belief that the law can be used to ensure opportunities for the disenfranchised and oppressed. At the time, Anthony was in private practice, but also starting his own fledgling nonprofit, For People of Color, an organization to help people of color enter the legal profession.

Anthony would later succeed Prof. Charles Ogletree, Jr. as chair of the EJS board and would serve in that position until 2012. In partnership with Eva Paterson and the rest of the board, he helped lead the next phase of EJS’s growth.

As we remember EJS in 2003, we salute former Research Director Susan Serrano, and former board chair Anthony Solana, Jr. for their invaluable contributions to our legacy.

We welcome sponsorships to our 20th anniversary celebration on September 17, 2020, at Herbst Theatre in San Francisco. The evening will include a oratorio* by Marcus Shelby inspired by the courage of Harriet Tubman and by the 20-year history of EJS. Please contact Ginger Johnson at gjohnson@equaljusticesociety.org for more information. Thank you!

* An oratorio is a large musical composition for orchestra, choir, and soloists. Like most operas, an oratorio includes the use of a choir, soloists, an instrumental ensemble, various distinguishable characters, and arias. However, opera is musical theatre, while oratorio is strictly a concert piece – though oratorios are sometimes staged as operas, and operas are sometimes presented in concert form. In an oratorio the choir often plays a central role, and there is generally little or no interaction between the characters, and no props or elaborate costumes.