Black History Month is more than celebrating the stories and accomplishments of Black folks in the past, it’s also about uplifting the  Black folks making history now! We want to highlight the incredible work of two young Black organizers who are paving the way for a better future.



YP4’17 Jaylin D. McClinton (He/Him/Él)

IG: @jaylindavon

LinkedIn: @jaylindmcclinton

Jaylin “Jay” D. McClinton is a life-long Chicagoan, having grown-up in the Roseland neighborhood on the Far South Side, and a law student (2L) at the Chicago-Kent College of Law. McClinton is a proud alumnus of Saint Sabina Academy, Curie Metropolitan High School, where he was enrolled in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he studied African-American Studies and Political Science with a Pre-Law Concentration obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts & Sciences. 

What work are you currently doing for your community?

Presently, Jaylin holds dual appointments as an Illinois Supreme Court Rule 711 Law Clerk in the Criminal Defense Clinic at his law school and as the Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) and Mary C. Russo Memorial Legal Intern at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois. McClinton has dedicated his professional career to public service and is passionate about reforming the American criminal legal system—ultimately dismantling the racially discriminatory, punitive approaches that currently exist. 

A short quote on what Black excellence means to you:

“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” – Shirley Chisholm


YP4’06 Chidinma Ume (She/Hers)

IG: @cheech_v

LinkedIn: @chidinmaume

Chidinma Ume is the Deputy Director of Policy at the Center for Court Innovation where she assists jurisdictions around the U.S. with designing and implementing reforms that promote fairness, evidence-informed practices, and human-centered approaches in the criminal legal system. Prior to joining the Center, Chidinma worked at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice where she led mayoral initiatives to reduce incarceration in NYC. In this role, Chidinma leveraged her prior experience in prosecution and criminal defense to pursue system change collaboratively with various stakeholders.

What work are you currently doing for your community?

Outside of work, I enjoy serving my community and empowering young leaders. During the pandemic, I co-founded a mentorship program for Nigerian students as part of the Reducing Pretrial Detention in Nigeria initiative. I also teach Restorative Justice at Pepperdine Law School in Los Angeles, where I am based.  Additionally, I am a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., where I have served in various leadership roles and plan and host events to emphasize scholarship, community service, and professional excellence.

A short quote on what Black excellence means to you:

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” -Plato.

I choose to define the experience of African Americans by what we continually overcome. We have had to channel profound challenges into opportunity — oftentimes to survive, and indeed, to thrive. Excellence is part of our essence; it is in our DNA.