The Unsung Heroine Award recognizes a woman who has demonstrated extraordinary dedication to issues that face women at Duke or in the larger community, but whose efforts have not received formal recognition.
2017 Award Winner: Glenda Dieuveille
Glenda Dieuveille, from Miami, FL, is a third-year law student at Duke. She graduated from Georgetown University with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Government. After law school, Glenda will be working at a New York law firm, White & Case, as a litigation associate.
Her nominator, a law school peer, illustrates her pride as a black, Haitian woman. Ocoszio Jackson notes, “These identities are central to who she is as a person and has guided her dynamic leadership at Duke Law School and Duke University.”
Dieuveille describes her leadership, “In the wake of highly publicized incidents of police violence against black people, I was interested in discussing anti-black racism in the law school. I wanted to bring these conversations to the law school because I believe it is important that future lawyers understand how policing affects the lives of black folk, specifically black women. Additionally, as a member of the Duke black community, I knew that these issues mattered to my fellow black female colleagues, and I wanted to give them a space to discuss their experiences with racism freely. In the fall of 2015, I decided to host a roundtable to give black students this space. I named the roundtable, Who cries for the black girl?: Exploring Issues of Erasure in the Black Lives Matter Movement. I borrowed part of the title from a documentary. The conversation was led by Dr. Wahneema Lubiano, Professor of African and African American Studies at Duke University. With about 50 students, we discussed how police violence against black women is unique and often ignored. We also discussed the type of racial animus that produces abuse against black women and girls.”
Jackson describes the outcome of the dialogue. “It was a cathartic process for many and an individual experience for empathy among all of those involved. Her commitment to bringing attention to the silencing of the black woman’s voice created an atmosphere of inclusivity in the law school.”
Dieuveille continued her leadership this spring. “Based on the success of Who cries for the black girl, I decided to expand the discussion into a four-day symposium for my law journal, the Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy. The symposium was titled Intersectionality and the Black Lives Matter Movement. Each day, we discussed an aspect of identity in relation to the Black Lives Matter Movement. We had panels entitled: Black Women and Girls Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter in Prison, Black Lives in School Matter, and Black LGBTQI Lives Matter. In total, we hosted fourteen speakers, including lawyers, professors, local activists, and policy makers, most of whom were women.
Her nominator reflects, “Glenda did not shy away from a topic that is difficult, but important, and relevant for discussion. She has consistently used her platform and resources as a leader to not only shine a light on women’s issues, but also inspire and uplift women in a positive way.”
Beyond facilitating conversations led by black women about anti-black racism, Glenda has been dedicated to working with local Durham non-profits who serve black people and black women. This year, she led a 3-week clothing and food drive among the graduate schools for Urban Ministries of Durham. She has also volunteered and arranged volunteer opportunities for graduate students with the East Durham Children’s Initiative and Step Up Durham.
Jackson describes her character as fierce, yet humble. “Her soul is not for sale. Her persuasion is to build a nation. She runs the world, like her favorite artist Queen Beyoncé. She has no problem asking the world to stop…solving a problem…then telling the world to carry on.”
Glenda’s advice for young women interested in social justice work is this: “Do what you want to see get done. Understand that your vision and your experience matters. Understand that your perspective is valuable. Do not allow anyone to tell you that you are not good enough.”