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Clarksdale native one of two selected for prestigious Department of Justice fellowship

Damonta Morgan, now in his third year at Columbia Law School, reflects on his educational journey to reaching this milestone.
Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 5:27 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 22, 2022 at 3:40 PM CDT
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CLARKSDALE, Miss. (WMC) - At a young age, Damonta Morgan had a calling for law.

“Growing up in Clarksdale, there weren’t a lot of lawyers, especially the type of lawyer that I think I want to be now,” Morgan said.

He would transfer after his sophomore year to the prestigious Mississippi School for Math and Science (MSMS) in Columbus, MS.

“I wanted to be challenged in a different way, and my teachers at Clarksdale High saw that in me as well,” he said.

From there, Morgan attended undergrad at Vanderbilt University, bringing with him that Mississippi Delta accent.

“People would immediately pick up on that, and they would assume things,” Morgan said. “But whatever I’m saying that coming out of that accent is going to be very smart, and it’s going to add to the conversation.”

The next step was law school, and Morgan had his dream school in mind since high school.

“I had in the back of my head Columbia because I watched a lot of Law and Order,” Morgan said, laughing. “It’s in New York City, and Columbia is in New York City, but it still didn’t feel attainable for me at that point.”

Morgan got into Columbia, just not the law school at first.

He started out in Columbia’s Teachers College, building those connection that eventually led to his dream, in law school there.

“A number of classes I took were co-taught by law school faculty or had law school students in the class,” Morgan recalled.

With those connections and having received his master’s degree from the Teachers College, Morgan finally got his dream, attending Columbia Law.

Over the last three years, Morgan’s accomplishments have stacked to most recently receiving a pre-clerkship fellowship with the Department of Justice, helping prepare briefs and oral arguments in the Supreme Court for the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).

Hundreds apply nationwide; only two are selected.

“I’m just incredibly blessed,” Morgan said, leaning hard on his faith. “There’s nothing special about me that should’ve put me in the place that I am today. I grew up in Clarksdale to a poor family, and people have consistently poured into me, giving me opportunities.”

Morgan’s opportunities may be endless after graduation.

He’s been contacted by countless firms across the country, but returning to Mississippi to be that change, maybe add to those attorneys in Clarksdale, he says, is always an option.

“I’m proud to be from Mississippi,” Morgan said. “I would love to come back and be of service at some point. I don’t know what form that’s going to take, but that is something that’s very much in the back of my mind.”

Back in Clarksdale, Morgan said he’s had current Clarksdale High School students, some he’s never met, reach out to him congratulating him on his success and asking for advice.

Morgan wants to use his story to serve as a representation to those from similar backgrounds as him to show that if goals are set and the course is stayed, anything is possible.

He said “The best thing you can do is to believe in yourself and put in the work. Everything else will come, whether by God or somebody else who believes in you and wants you to get to a specific place. It’ll come.”

Morgan’s fellowship with DOJ ends in August, and from there he’ll move to Jackson, Mississippi and then Chicago, clerking for U.S. District Court judges, as he prepares to graduate from Columbia.

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