Professors Fedders and Lau Honored by N.C. Nonprofit

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Barbara Fedders
Holning Lau

On December 1, 2012, UNC School of Law professors Barbara Fedders and Holning Lau were among those honored with the first annual SONG award from the grassroots organization of the same name, Southerners on a New Ground (SONG). According to co-director Caitlin Breedlove, Fedders and Lau were recognized by the organization for their work with grassroots organizations in opposition to North Carolina Amendment 1, a ballot initiative that proposed to amend the state constitution to limit the types of domestic unions recognized by the state. On May 8, 2012, North Carolina voters approved the amendment.

“SONG is an organization I've long admired for its emphasis on making links between different forms of inequality and discrimination, building coalitions among individuals of different races, generations, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation and gender identity, and putting the needs of poor people at the forefront of its work,” says Barbara Fedders, clinical assistant professor of law at UNC. She says her own work on issues of the poor, people of color, and people of color in schools and criminal justice systems provided a connection with SONG. The group was working to highlight the particular ways in which people of color, immigrants, and poor people would be hurt by the passage of Amendment One. “I'm deeply honored to be recognized by SONG,” she says.

Lau likewise worked to provide information and assistance to the group as it mobilized a statewide grassroots get-out-the-vote effort. "I am extremely honored by this thoughtful recognition,” says Lau, associate professor of law. “This award means a lot to me because I have such deep respect for SONG, especially for the way that SONG connects LGBT rights advocacy to other social justice movements. SONG has been instrumental in building coalitions across different communities that are committed to advancing social justice. SONG’s coalitional work is incredibly important and inspiring."

“We chose Professors Fedders and Lau both because they have such a strong track record of working at the intersection of those issues even though they have done a lot as advocates and professors and lawyers, they both have looked at how to do good work for people living in poverty and for people of color. They were both involved in doing research, writing and community presentations around the harms of Amendment 1 and why it was unnecessary and why it hurt families. They made themselves very available to SONG to help us understand the implications and legal work,” says Breedlove, who added that Fedders and Lau were able to bring academic research into the practical framework needed by grassroots coalitions that work primarily with low income and disadvantaged communities.

“We wanted to make sure the University knew how valuable they were and how much we appreciated their assistance,” she says. “They exemplify the best working relationship between academia and grassroots organizations.”

Lau and Fedders were two of a handful of people recognized by SONG.

-December 3, 2012

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