Remembering Heather Heyer
The Ultimate Sacrifice – What Will Your Legacy Be:
Heather Heyer and Her Impact on the Paralegal Profession
By Kristine Custodio Suero, ACP
Heather Heyer is considered a hero by many. If you do not know her name, you should, especially as a paralegal. A simple Google search of her name will lead you to about 1,150,000 results, one of those being Wikipedia. How many paralegals do you know on Wikipedia?
Heather Heyer died on August 12, 2017, at the age of 32 in Charlottesville, Virginia. In 2017, she received a posthumous Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for Social Justice. Here is Heather’s story as posted on the Heather Heyer Foundation website:
Heather D. Heyer, a young woman with a big heart and a love for all individuals regardless of race, religion or creed, lost her life August 12, 2017 when a car plowed into a crowd of counter-demonstrators who were protesting a rally of neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members, and other white nationalists.
Heather was a high school graduate who had worked for years as a waitress and a bartender until 2012 when she was given the opportunity to work at a local law firm in Charlottesville, VA. Upon getting this opportunity to better herself and establish a career, Heather embraced and worked hard to become a paralegal. While working as a paralegal, Heather continued to voice her concerns and views about equality. She often expressed her deep frustration because minorities, genders, and religious cultures were being unjustly treated. By speaking out for justice and equality, Heather embodied the spirit of the civil rights movement.
Heather was a young woman deeply involved in taking a stand against injustice when she didn’t have to do so. Heather’s story shows how much has changed since the civil rights movement, but it also shows how much hasn’t changed.
The Heather Heyer Foundation was created to honor Heather Heyer, a young civil rights activist, who dedicated her life to promoting equal rights for all people. The Foundation has established a scholarship program to provide financial assistance to individuals passionate about positive social change. Scholarships will be awarded to those seeking a degree or certification in, but not limited to, law, paralegal studies, social work, social justice, and education. Help us make a difference, and as Heather had often quoted “If you’re not outraged you’re not paying attention.” (Unknown)
Why is it important for our profession to recognize someone like Heather Heyer? Because it is important to recognize each one of us and the work we do both professionally and personally that impacts others.
As our country continues to grapple with racial justice issues, many of us now take pause and reflect on our own lives and legacy. It has often been said that, “Time is money.” It seems that the more appropriate adage today is, “Time if LIFE.” Using your legal training, knowledge, skills, and passion can make a difference in the world.
On June 27, 2019, Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut introduced Senate Bill 2043 the “Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer National Opposition to Hate, Assault, and Threats to Equality Act of 2019” or the “Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act”. The NO HATE Act seeks to address the underreporting of hate crimes and improve police response to hate crimes.
I hope that you will remember Heather Heyer’s name, and on August 12th of each year that you will all take a moment to reflect on the ultimate sacrifice made by this brave young woman who stood up for what she believed in and fought for a more just society. What will your legacy be?
About the Author
|Kristine Custodio Suero, ACP is an award-winning legal professional, a published author and a highly sought after speaker. A true servant leader, she has lead the San Diego Paralegal Association and California Alliance of Paralegal Associations as President. Kristine teaches legal courses for a local San Diego paralegal program and lends her time to the program’s advisory board. Kristine is a member of the NALA Professional Development Committee and a past member of the NALA Continuing Education Council and Ethics Chair. Kristine is a Senior Paralegal/Business Development Director for Butterfield Schechter LLP. Kristine may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.|