By J. K. Schmid, Special to the AFRO

A Baltimore native has returned home from Harvard Law School.

D’Sean Williams-Brown, 25, is now studying for his bar exam after graduating in Harvard’s 2018 class.

After studying at Howard University and Harvard Law School, D’Sean Williams-Brown is back in his hometown. (Courtesy photo)

Born in 1993, Williams-Brown grew up on the 2600 block of Kirk Avenue before moving north in 1998 to Winston Avenue.

It was in these Black communities that Williams-Brown’s interests in politics and law grew.

“The neighborhood I lived in, what it looked like, the challenges that both my family faced and everyone in the neighborhood faced; the folks that were facing these challenges, all of them looked like me,” Williams-Brown told the AFRO. “The politics of the Black community, the issues were so common, but it is the truth, I couldn’t put two and two together, I just knew that something else was involved, and it led me to examine how did this happen?”

He had more questions as he took more of Baltimore in.

“How do I live in a block with all Black families and then when I go across to the other side of town, it looks different,” Williams-Brown said. “Why is my school set up in a certain way? We have one Black teacher in school, how do these things come into play?”

While working on these questions, Williams-Brown somewhat struggled in middle school as a B-C student.

“I got into mischievous stuff, joking, teasing, not listening to teachers, not really paying attention, my grades suffered with a few detentions here and there,” Williams-Brown said.

He was denied admission to Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, due to his subpar grades, leaving his parents with a tough choice.

“My parents were left either to send me to a school in the area that was struggling, and eventually closed, or send me to private school,” Williams-Brown said. “My dad had found me a private school, he talked to my mom, he said ‘you know what, let’s give this a shot.’”

With help from his three aunts and his grandparents, Williams-Brown’s family was able to raise the tuition for him to attend Calvert Hall Catholic High School.

“I think that sort of sparked within me, that I need to take it serious,” Williams-Brown said. “This is not cheap, this is not easy, they really are pushing for me to accomplish, so let me go and do well. It was a different experience, coming from a city school to a private school, my only focus was to go in, put my head down and do the work and make sure that investment paid off.”

It did pay off. Upon graduation, Williams-Brown was awarded a full academic scholarship to Howard University.

“People call it the Mecca, it’s this center of Black culture and Black history and education for so many brilliant people and experiences,” Williams-Brown said.

While studying alongside the Black elite, both peers and professors, some of the experience was taken for granted until graduation.

“You go back and look at folks who graduated from Howard and contributed to society and how great and successful and prominent these folks have become and how important their work has been to the movements,” Williams-Brown said. “By the time my senior year came, I really started to appreciate what I had been a part of and being able to graduate and say that I went to an institution that was a part of that.”

While there were too many Howard professors and mentors to recognize, Williams-Brown did go on at length about his Mock Trial coach, attorney Angela D. Minor, Esq. William’s-Brown was himself a mock trial attorney, his team went to nationals.

“Watching her commitment, learning from her, and getting the opportunity to be able to go out and explore what my interests were, and explore my talents and get better at the trade was something that was very important to me,” Williams-Brown said. “It’s one of those things that will follow through the rest of my career.”

Williams-Brown’s academic career next took him to Harvard Law School. He interned for the ACLU and was a member of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau. In Boston, Williams-Brown fought evictions and foreclosures, serving as a community lawyer for the disadvantaged and vulnerable.

He’s returned to and taken up residence in Baltimore, a city with an alarming and nation-leading rate of eviction.

As Williams-Brown’s wrote on his Harvard application:

“Knowledge of the law is empowering,” he wrote. “I witnessed this firsthand when I saw the weight lifted off my mother’s shoulders as an attorney explained the legal procedures and her potential options during the foreclosure process. Although at times limited, the law also has the ability to promote the ideals of self-determination, equality, and social justice. During my legal education, I know that I will gain the skills necessary to continue to advocate for the underprivileged in society. Motivated by my own humble upbringing, I hope to collaborate with a variety of bright legal minds and utilize legal scholarship to imagine innovative solutions and create the change that I want to see in the national community.”