Terrence Hunter, a second-year student at the University of Mississippi School of Law, will travel to New York City this summer to work as an intern with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Photo courtesy Terrence Hunter
Terrence Hunter, a second-year student at the University of Mississippi School of Law, will travel to New York City this summer to work as an intern with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Hunter reached out to the NAACP last September to join the 10-week LDF program, which runs from May 29 to Aug. 9.
"When I interviewed with them, they asked me why I was interested in working with the NAACP," Hunter says. "I told them that it's because I have a passion for civil-rights law and helping those who can't help themselves, and a family history of being involved in civil-rights work."
Hunter's grandfather, Alfred Hunter, served as president of the NAACP chapter in Natchez for more than 20 years starting in the late '70s. While his grandfather was still with the organization, Terrence Hunter says Alfred often brought him along to his office and to meetings to watch him work.
"Hearing my grandfather's stories, watching him work with other leaders and organizations about helping the community and going to NAACP conventions to hear civil-rights leaders speak inspired me," Hunter says. "He showed me who I could be and what I should fight for, and how to be a voice for the African American community in Natchez."
Hunter, 25, was born in Grenada and grew up in Natchez. He graduated from Trinity Episcopal Day School in Natchez and went on to Tougaloo College, where he received a bachelor's degree in English in 2017. He enrolled at UMSL later that year.
While attending UMSL, Hunter joined the MacArthur Justice Center clinic on the university's campus. Students in the clinic draft legal documents, interview witnesses, and perform other tasks related to cases about civil rights law and public interest law, which involves pro bono work and other practices to assist people who can't afford legal representation.
He is also a member of the Black Law Students Association at UM, which is an organization that gathers African American law students together to discuss issues they face on campus, voice their opinions and discuss diversity plans for the school.
Hunter is one of 11 students taking part in the LDF summer intern program. In the time since he joined the program last November, he has been doing research for a project the NAACP gave the students to write memorandums on civil-rights issues they believe the LDF should focus on.
"One of the worst issues I believe Mississippi has is that there is no law here concerning how long someone can be incarcerated without being indicted," Hunter says. "We have a lot of black and brown people in prisons across the state who have been there for years without standing trial, with no one trying to get them out. I also think Mississippi needs to eliminate cash bail, because so many people can't afford it. It's a system where the rich go home and the poor stay in jail."
The students in the LDF program will also perform tasks such as attend hearings and research past and ongoing civil-rights cases as part of their internship.
"I'm honored to get the opportunity to work with such a prestigious organization, especially after having met some of my colleagues I'll be working with," Hunter says. "I believe Tougaloo and UMSL have both prepared me for this, and I feel it's my duty to shed light on the talent we have here in Mississippi."