WSU law school dean honored by NAACP


Wayne State University Law School Dean Jocelyn Benson is being honored by the Detroit branch of the NAACP with its 2013 Great Expectations Award.

Benson will receive the award Sunday, April 28 at the group’s 58th annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner at the Cobo Conference Center in Detroit.

In announcing the award winner, NAACP officials noted that Benson has advocated for voting rights for many years, created and directed the Michigan Allies Project to track hate incidents and give legal support to victims, and supported equality in many other ways.

“Freedom fighters,” is what the Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit Branch, called Benson and fellow Great Expectations Award recipient Bankole Thompson, senior editor of the Michigan Chronicle.

Others being awarded at the dinner include author and Georgetown University Prof. Michael Dyson, who will receive the 2013 Ida B. Wells Freedom and Justice Award; and Detroit Councilwoman JoAnn Watson, who will receive the 2013 Mary Church Terrell Freedom and Justice Award.

“These individuals reflect the spirit of freedom and justice and the continued struggle for justice by many in our nation who believe that freedom must never be defaulted,” Anthony said.
Keynote speaker at the event will be House Democratic Leader Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.

The theme for this year’s dinner is “Freedom Must Never Be Defaulted, It Must Forever Be Exalted!”

“I am proud and humbled to receive this award from the NAACP, an organization that has made a profound impact on the causes of freedom, justice and equality in our nation for so many decades,” Benson said.

Benson joined the Wayne Law faculty in 2005, and served as associate director of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights before being named interim dean of the law school in 2012.

She founded and is the executive director of the nonpartisan Michigan Center for Election Law, which hosts projects that support transparency and integrity in elections.

Her areas of expertise include election law, education law, race and the law, and civil procedure.

Prior to joining the law faculty, Benson clerked for Judge Damon J. Keith on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. She also worked as a legal assistant to Nina Totenberg at National Public Radio and investigated hate groups and hate crimes for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College, Benson earned a master of philosophy as a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University and her law degree from Harvard Law School.

Tickets for the dinner are available for $150.

For more details or to purchase tickets, call 313-871-2087 or visit