Mackey Named A&T’s First Marshall-Motley Scholars Program Recipient

By Jackie Torok / 05/12/2023 College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, History and Political Science, Honors College

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (May 12, 2023) – Arianna Mackey has been named North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s first Marshall-Motley Scholars Program (MMSP) recipient.

Launched by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) in January 2021 in the aftermath of 2020’s racial injustice protests, MMSP is a groundbreaking pipeline program that endows the South with the next generation of civil rights lawyers trained to provide legal advocacy of unparalleled excellence in the pursuit of racial justice.

Mackey will graduate May 13 with a B.A. in political science from the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences as a member of the third 10-person MMSP cohort. She plans to address environmental justice in her career and is considering Juris Doctor programs at Georgetown University, Howard University and the University of Houston Law Center.

In exchange for a full law school scholarship and professional development, MMSP scholars commit to devoting the first eight years of their careers to practicing civil rights law in service of Black communities in the South. The program is named in honor of Supreme Court Justice, legendary civil rights attorney and LDF founder Thurgood Marshall and iconic civil rights litigator, former LDF attorney and the first Black woman to serve as a federal judge, Constance Baker Motley.

Mackey, a native of Chesapeake, Virginia, matriculated at A&T as a Lewis and Elizabeth Dowdy Scholar and member of the University Honors Program, which became the Honors College in October 2022, while maintaining a 3.98 GPA. She was the only undergraduate student selected among law school students to participate in a 2021 summer internship with the Environmental Protection Agency, led by Administrator Michael S. Regan ’98. She also held a 2022 spring internship with the Center for Health, Environment & Justice and a 2022 summer internship with the Environmental Defense Fund. She is dedicated to using legal education to be a fierce environmental justice advocate — remedying environmental harms imposed on minority communities and preventing future injustices from taking place.

“Practicing environmental law in the South will allow me to be especially impactful as many environmentally racist practices were implemented in the Deep South,” said Mackey. “I am committed to doing this work as an environmental advocate and civil rights attorney, seeking to improve the life outcomes of Black people in the southern United States, because I have the experience of living in a minority city that experiences these environmental burdens.”

Arianna Mackey volleyball photoWith food insecurity at top of mind – and a total of 50 hours served at Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina – Mackey decided to co-found Black Bus Inc., a nonprofit created to provide healthy and accessible food to those who are underserved in Guilford County, North Carolina. As a member of the Aggie volleyball team during its 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, she earned recognition as a University Scholar-Athlete. She was a member of Virginia Aggies and served as a student senator, attorney-general intern and voter registration facilitator for local, state and national elections with the Student Government Association. Additionally, she received the Girl Scout Bronze and Silver awards and completed an 80-hour service project teaching young women about healthy relationships and sexually-transmitted diseases to receive the Girl Scout Gold Award, the organization’s highest honor.

“Arianna is a goal-getter who will use her voice and education as a way to change the world,” said Daphne M. Cooper, Ph.D., interim chair of A&T’s Department of History and Political Science. “Arianna is someone who, in the words of Madam C.J. Walker, ‘doesn’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. She gets up and makes them.’”

An endorsee of both the 2022 Truman and Udall scholarships, Mackey is N.C. A&T’s second MMSP finalist, joining Cole Riley ’22 who was named N.C. A&T’s first MMSP finalist in 2022.

“Arianna has clearly distinguished herself as a leader and by building a demonstrated track record of commitment to both a public service career and to issues related to the environment,” said Alsace-Lorraine Gallop, A&T’s national scholarships and fellowships coordinator. “She has been undeterred in her journey to become a stellar civil rights advocate for environmental justice, and she is now even better positioned to help bring about transformational change so that excluded and exploited communities are heard, environmental resources are protected, and equality is embraced.”

Black students continue to face more barriers than ever to attend law school. Studies show the cost of a private law school education has grown by 175% since 1985. According to the American Bar Association, student loans take a disproportionate toll on lawyers of color, often forcing them to take unwanted career paths. The support offered by the MMSP is an intentional effort to address the racial and economic barriers that often deter students from pursuing their dreams of becoming civil rights attorneys, and a targeted effort to support the civil rights ecosystem in the South.

“Arianna is a shining example of the greatness that lies within the campus of North Carolina A&T State University. There is no shortage of talent at N.C. A&T and we are thrilled to have an Aggie in our ranks of Marshall-Motley Scholars,” said Adria Nobles Kimbrough, MMSP student recruiting manager. “We know Arianna will continue the rich legacy of the A&T Four and so many other N.C. A&T graduates who have been leaders in the fight for racial justice. We look forward to seeing the trail she will blaze, and, through her example, we hope she will inspire other A&T students to apply for our program.”

Mackey applied for MMSP with support from NCAT Extraordinary Opportunities (NCAT EO), which is part of the Honors College and is open to all A&T students and alumni. Candidates, faculty and staff are encouraged to contact Gallop at acgallop@ncat.edu with questions about MMSP and related EO applications.

Media Contact Information: jtorok@ncat.edu

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