From left: Professor Laura Gómez, Miguel Espinoza, Richard Wasserstrom and Wallace Walker at a panel on the history of affirmation action at UCLA Law.
UCLA Law’s remarkable history as pioneer of affirmative action in higher education was the focus of a special presentation that convened in September 2018 at the law school. Nearly 100 members of the law school community participated in a four-hour program inspired by the 2017 book The Integration of UCLA School of Law, 1966-1978: Architects of Affirmative Action.
Written by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Miguel Espinoza, the book traces the creation and effects of UCLA Law’s trailblazing Legal Education Opportunity Program (LEOP) through first-person accounts from more than 80 professors and students — including Espinoza’s father, former L.A. Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza ’80.
Moderated by professor Laura Gómez, the panel included Espinoza; current faculty members Carole Goldberg and Tony Tolbert; former professor Richard Wasserstrom, who co-founded LEOP; current student Daniel Johnson ’19; alum Wallace Walker ’70, who was in LEOP’s first graduating class; and Mia Yamamoto ’71, who pushed for the inclusion of Asians in LEOP and co-founded the Asian/Pacific Islander Law Students Association at UCLA.
Speakers also celebrated the legacy of a central figure in the book and in the life of UCLA Law, the legendary, late professor Leon Letwin, who spearheaded the LEOP effort. Several members of Letwin’s family traveled to join the event, which was co-sponsored by UCLA Law’s Critical Race Studies program and David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy.