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Jeffrey Lee Edison


Jeffrey Lee Edison

In October 1974, JEFFREY LEE EDISON, as a law student, attended his first annual meeting of the National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL), in New Orleans, LA. This meeting of NCBL lawyers, law students, and legal workers, under the directorship of Lennox Hinds, solidified Mr. Edison’s foundation, inspiration and frame of reference for what an African American lawyer should be.

Mr. Edison returned to Detroit, and helped organize the National Conference of Black Lawyers, Michigan Chapter, in March 1975.

Mr. Edison continues as an active member of NCBL for 45 years. Mr. Edison is a former National Co-Chair, NCBL; former National Co-Chair, Criminal Justice Section, NCBL; former faculty and former member, Board of Directors, Detroit/Wayne County Criminal Advocacy Program; member, Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, and, former member, Legal Redress Committee, NAACP.

Mr. Edison has lectured on various criminal justice issues and has trained lawyers on trial advocacy techniques. He has participated in various programs in correctional facilities to address prisoner concerns and has been involved in community organizing around prison issues, police brutality, and political prisoners.

Mr. Edison made his first pilgrimage to Africa, which was a life-changing experience, in September 1987, when he represented NCBL on a hospitality tour of Togo, West Africa; and, he also spent a week in Ivory Coast, West Africa.

In 1989, Mr. Edison represented NCBL, as part of a Nation of Islam delegation to Libya, in celebration of Libya’s 20th Anniversary. This delegation included among others, Adjoa Aiyetoro, NCBL, National Co-chair; Akbar Muhammed, Nation of Islam; Chokwe Lumumba, New Afrikan Peoples Organization; Imari Obadele, President, Republic of New Afrika; and Kwame Ture.

In 1991, The African National Congress invited NCBL, and the National Lawyers Guild to discuss, analyze and present papers on various issues that would assist the ANC in its formulation of a South African constitution, in anticipation of an ANC victory in the upcoming national elections.

In collaboration with the late M. Shanara Gilbert, of NCBL, Mr. Edison, presented, “Comments: The Draft Bill of Rights for Post-Apartheid South Africa: Protections for the Criminal Defendant,” at a Constitution Making Conference, in Cape Town, South Africa.

Some of the NCBL members in the delegation were Cheryl Harris, National Co-Chair; Adrienne Wing, Chair, International Section; Judith Bourne; Judy Scully; and Shirley Traylor. During the trip to South Africa,

Mr. Edison was part of a delegation that represented NCBL in Namibia, for Namibia’s celebration of its Second Anniversary of Independence. Mr. Edison met and stayed in the home of the renowned revolutionary freedom fighter, Andimba Toivo ya Toivo.

He was a founding member of the Southwest African People’s Organization, SWAPO, which was the vanguard of the liberation movement that gained Namibia’s independence from South Africa.

Toivo ya Toivo was captured, viciously tortured, tried, and imprisoned by the apartheid South African regime during the Namibia’s struggle for independence. Mr. Edison met and attended a State Dinner hosted by President Sam Nujoma, where Mr. Edison was honored to present a toast to the president.

Mr. Edison and his wife, Shaakira, now commute to Ghana twice annually. He works with and supports Shaakira’s project, the Ababio Culture and Arts Center, whose goal is to help empower and revitalize the Bantuma and Akyinim communities in Elmina, Ghana, through culture, arts, education, and training.

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