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DePaul Law Establishes New Racial Justice Initiative

Manoj Mate and Nathan Fleming
Manoj Mate and Nathan Fleming
DePaul College of Law’s new Racial Justice Initiative (RJI) will serve as a nexus for students, lawyers, researchers, policymakers and activists to collaborate in devising and implementing community-driven solutions to advance racial justice. Professor of LawManoj Matehas been named the Initiative’s inaugural faculty director.  He will work closely with inaugural RJI FellowNathan Fleming, who previously served the Council of the District of Columbia aslegislative and committee director where he authored several pieces of legislation to expand educational, housing, employment, racial and community equity throughout Washington DC.  Dean Jennifer Rosato Perea expressed her pride in the RJI, saying,This initiative, launched by these terrific experts in policy and advocacy and the generosity of the donors, will strengthen the law school’s commitment to social and racial justice and deepen our impact on communities in Chicago.” 

The RJI will seek to have an impact in key areas at the intersection of racial justice and community equity, such as policing, housing, economic opportunity, education, health and voting rights.  It will have an interdisciplinary focus on the legal system and public policy, particularly in Chicago and the State of Illinois The RJI will develop non-litigation strategies to attack systems that perpetuate racial injustice and take actions to build momentum for broader, scalable reform.  

In Spring 2023, the RJI will hire student research assistants. RJI students will work on local and state change campaigns and develop innovative and systemic strategies to advance racial justice for marginalized individuals and groups. Students will conduct legal and social science research and analysis, interview stakeholders and experts, draft legislation, plan events, and develop oral advocacy and public relations skills. “Ultimately, the RJI will prepare students to use their legal skills to develop and execute social change campaigns,” says Mate. 

The Initiative also will seek to collaborate and build partnerships with stakeholders within the College of Law, across DePaul University and with community partners. The RJI will convene civic leaders, advocates, practicing attorneys, academics, residents impacted by racism and the broader public to gather input and explore solutions that will reduce racial inequities.  It is our goal to create a space for communities of color to share their narrative experiences that intersect with race and law,” says Fleming.   

The son of immigrants from India, Professor Mate holds a JD from Harvard Law School and a PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. He brings significant legal and policy experience to his role as RJI faculty director. He formerly served as a senior policy advisor to Mayor Julián Castro in San Antonio, Texas, where he worked on green jobs, sustainability, energy and health policies, and led the creation of the city’s first Mayor’s Fitness Council. He also practiced election law and worked on voting rights initiatives in California, including work for the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute for Law and Social Policy at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. “I am honored and excited to serve as the inaugural RJI faculty director and to work with our outstanding RJI fellow, Nathan Fleming; DePaul colleagues and students; and community partners throughout Chicago and Illinois,” says Mate. “The Initiative will advance racial justice through research, policy work and advocacy on equity issues impacting minority communities.”  

Immediately after completing a joint program in law at Berkeley and in public policy at Harvard, Fleming served his hometown as DC’s Shadow U.S. Representative, an elected advocate for DC statehood and self-determination in Congress.  He is currently completing his doctorate in higher education at the University of Pennsylvania.  He is “impressed by how much is being done at the College of Law and University to advance racial justice,” and he looks “forward to working with all facets of the DePaul community to create meaningful change in vulnerable communities.”  

For more information on the RJI, please email RJI Faculty Director Manoj Mate at or RJI Fellow Nathan Fleming at