The Black Law Students Association (BLSA) at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus honored Florida State Senator Arthenia L. Joyner (2006-2016) with the 2020 Distinguished Leadership Honoree at its annual Black Tie Ball held at the Hilton Garden Inn on Saturday, March 7.
During her acceptance speech, Joyner recalled her history of advocating for women’s and human rights and her relentless passion for justice, truth, and equal rights. She challenged the audience of future lawyers about the dangers of apathy and complacency.
Pictured: Ke'Dazia Barber, BLSA president; Arthenia Joyner; Renalia DuBose, WMU-Cooley professor and BLSA faculty adviser; and Breon Mann, Black Tie Ball chairwoman
WMU-Cooley Professor and BLSA Faculty Advisor Renalia DuBose introduced Joyner to the audience and chronicled her history of advocacy for equality. The event culminated with the naming of the new $9.3 million Tampa-Hillsborough public library in her honor.
“The next generation of lawyers needs to understand that they hold the key to justice for all,” DuBose said during the event. “Senator Joyner is a prime example of the impact that a highly-skilled attorney can have on our society.”
Joyner, of counsel at Vanguard Attorneys in Tampa, practices in the area of personal injury. She is a graduate of Florida A&M University College of Law, where she was Florida’s fifth black female lawyer, the first black female lawyer in Hillsborough County, the first black lawyer in Polk County, the first black female lawyer to serve on the board of the Hillsborough County Bar Association, the first black appointed by Governor Lawton Chiles to the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, the first black woman appointed to the Board of Directors of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the first black female state representative and state senator elected from Tampa, the first black female lawyer in the Florida Senate, and the first black female to lead the Senate Democratic Caucus. Joyner has practiced law for 50 years, longer than any black woman in the history of Florida.