Arlinda Locklear Delivers Commencement Address at College of Charleston, Encourages Public Service

Arlinda Locklear, Lumbee, the first female Native American attorney to argue before the Supreme Court, served as commencement speaker for the May 12 events at the College of Charleston, of which she is an alumna. She graduated in 1973 with a bachelor’s in political science from the College of Charleston and was given a doctorate of humane letters before giving her speech. She also has a juris doctorate from Duke University.

The gentleman introducing her discusses how she dealt with segregation in Robeson County, North Carolina and how places like the local movie theater were separated by whites, blacks and Indians. He says inequity such as this bothered her. “I knew early on that I wanted to become a lawyer and work to change this,” he says Locklear said.

Start watching around 45 minutes in to hear about Locklear’s background and to see her be presented with an honorary doctorate of humane letters. But to skip right to her speech, start watching at 53 minutes in. Locklear talks about the many blessings in her life, as well as her accomplishments in Indian law.

“I could not have chosen a more gratifying career,” she says. “But here’s my point to you graduates, you too should consider a life dedicated to public service. There is great work to be done in many fields; all the way from federal Indian law, to environmental protection and sustainability, to economic justice, to protection of women and children worldwide and to the assistance of those afflicted with disease and poverty.”


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