Equal Justice Works Fellow, New York Civil Liberties Union
“I’m absolutely in love with the 14th Amendment,” says Ifetayo (Tayo) Belle ’10.
“My ultimate goal is to expand our understanding of the equal protection clause.” Raised in a family of activists, Tayo always planned to focus her life’s work on ending discrimination. And just as she drew inspiration from strong family role models, at Northeastern she found lifelong mentors and classmates who share her ideals.
In her co-ops, Tayo focused on a variety of areas of racial justice, from equal opportunity for minority business owners to employment and education equality to voting rights. Her experiences laid the foundation for her current work at the New York Civil Liberties Union, where she addresses harmful suspension practices in New York City public schools that disproportionately affect African American students.
Tayo worked alongside professional lawyers on civil rights and criminal law cases, including lawsuits related to Hurricane Katrina.
Serving as Professor Margaret Burnham’s research assistant for nearly three years, Tayo helped reopen a 1960s murder case and bring justice to families that was long overdue. She is a current member of the clinic’s advisory board.
Under the supervision of the Honorable Anne Williams, Tayo drafted memoranda and orders and assessed the merits of petitions for rehearings and successive appeals.
Tayo helped to create weekly lesson plans for the instruction of first-year students.
Tayo’s responsibilities included conducting a 50-state summary of voting laws and constitutional provisions.
Continuing her fight for racial justice, Tayo researched and wrote memoranda for pending federal litigation against the US Census Bureau related to employee discrimination.
A key part of her legal training, Tayo learned how to relate to clients, gain their trust and help give them a voice.
After completing her fellowship with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, Tayo received a prestigious Equal Justice Works Fellowship with the New York Civil Liberties Union.