Q&A: Meet Student Legacy Award Winner Anthony Collier
Meet Anthony Collier, a rising 3L Texas Law student and this year’s recipient of the Heman Sweatt Student Legacy Award. We caught up with the Manor, Texas native to learn more about his many accomplishments on campus and in the community. Read on to learn more about his transformative experiences in the Sweatt Center for Black Males, the civil rights icons who inspire him the most, and what the future holds after graduation.
Programs and Activities: Chair, National Black Law Students Association; Executive Board Member, National Bar Association; President, Texas Law’s Student Bar Association (20-21); Executive Board Member, Austin Bar Association (20-21); Graduate Assistant, Heman Sweatt Center for Black Males; Pre-Law Pipeline Mentor, University of Houston Law Center (UHLC); Board Member, William Wayne Justice Center
Internships, Fellowships and Community Service: 2020 Law Fellow, NAACP; Judiciary Fellow, U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee; Policy Analyst, Texas Senate; Legislative Director, Texas House of Representatives; Student Attorney, Civil Rights Clinic, Legislative Lawyering Clinic, and Criminal Defense Clinic; Volunteer, Law for Black Lives
Accolades: Class of 2022 G. Rollie White Public Service Scholar, Texas Law; Global Grant Scholar, The Rotary Foundation; Alvaro L. Martins Scholar, Executive Leadership Council; Marcia Johnson Outstanding Public Service Award, Thurgood Marshall School of Law; 1L of the Year, Thurgood Marshal Legal Society; Outstanding Student Award, Texas Southern University
Which Civil Rights leader, past or present, do you look to for inspiration?
Thurgood Marshall, Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela, Dr. King, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, Carl Hampton, and Gary Bledsoe.
What does it mean to you to be honored at the Heman Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights?
Being honored at the Heman Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights is a surreal experience. Thurgood Marshall sued the State of Texas to allow Heman Sweatt to attend Texas Law. In response, the Texas Legislature sought to create a “separate but equal” institution of higher learning to prevent Black students from attending UT. The ledge immediately allocated a few million dollars to transform the “Houston College for Negroes” into what is now known as Texas Southern University (TSU) and to establish TSU’s law school.
As a proud graduate of TSU and as a student at Texas Law, this award reminds me that I stand on the shoulders of juggernauts and that people put their lives on the line to pave the way for me. I can never pay them back. Therefore, I must pay it forward, press for progress, and continue the struggle for equity and liberation. This award is bigger than me.
What motivated you to become the first in your family to pursue a college degree?
Our lives are a combination of the places we go, the people we meet and the books we read. I went to church, where I was fortunate enough to meet a brother who encouraged me to read a couple of books that expanded my horizon and caused me to envision a better world. As a result, I decided to attend Texas Southern University in the hopes that I could become an effective advocate for marginalized communities.
What do you enjoy most about your experience with the Heman Sweatt Center for Black Males?
I appreciate the Sweatt Center for being a safe haven for Black men. In higher education in general, especially at UT, Black men are grossly underrepresented. Being a Black man in institutions like UT can be isolating. The Sweatt Center offers an abundance of programming, mentorship, professional development and scholarship opportunities for Black men. I am passionate about giving back and lending a helping hand to the brothers coming behind me, and I am thankful that the Sweatt Center allows me to do so.
What words of wisdom would you like to pass down to incoming Longhorns who are looking to pursue law school?
I would tell incoming longhorns what I learned from Woodrow Wilson. That we are not here merely to make a living. We are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. We are here to enrich the world, and we impoverish ourselves if we forget that errand.
What are you looking forward to the most after graduation?
I’m most looking forward to improving the lives of others through the law and helping to make America as good as her promise.
Anything else you would like to add?
I am deeply honored to receive the Heman Sweatt Student Legacy Award. Thank you all very kindly.