The University of New Mexico alumna and Executive Assistant United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico Aja Nicole Brooks will be the keynote speaker at The University of New Mexico Department of Africana Studies 39th Black History Month Kickoff Brunch.

Event tickets...

  • Tickets for the brunch are available online.
  •  Tickets are $50 and tables for 10 are $500. 
  • A limited number of discounted student tickets are available at $25. 
  • Departments, units, and organizations are encouraged to buy tables for their students, faculty, and staff to attend.
  • Table sponsorships are available by contacting Department Administrator Amy Johnson at

The brunch, in partnership with the UNM African American Student Services, will be held Saturday, Jan. 27, at the UNM SUB Ballroom at 10:30 a.m.

“Associate Chair Kathy Powers and I thought it would be a good idea to be more deliberate in how we choose our honored guests,” explained Africana Studies Chair Kirsten Pai Buick. “This year and going forward, we will select a national or international speaker who has contributed to the intellectual advancement of U.S. society and politics through the lens of Black Studies.

"With Attorney Brooks, we begin our focus and theme ‘New Mexico: Someone You Should Know.’ We chose her because not only is she from New Mexico, but also because of her emphasis on educating the general public about their rights, as well as her phenomenal record aiding Indigenous people of New Mexico. Brooks best represents our motto: ‘Lifting as We Climb.

Brooks is a native New Mexican born in Hobbs. She is a graduate of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., where she received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish. She attended the UNM School of Law and graduated with her juris doctorate in 2008.

Aja Brooks

Before her current position, Brooks worked as the director of the Second Judicial District Court’s Center for Self-Help and Dispute Resolution. She is involved in many legal groups and activities, including serving as the secretary-treasurer of the State Bar of New Mexico and as a mentor in the Bridge the Gap Mentorship Program. She is the past president of the New Mexico Black Lawyers Association, a former president of the State Bar of New Mexico Foundation, the secretary of Region X of the National Bar Association, and a member of the Iota Xi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. She enjoys exploring and traveling near and far with her husband, Johnn and her son, Emerson.

The Brunch is significant because it has been a mainstay in the UNM community for three decades and continues to be a shining example of the University's commitment to diversity, gender equity, and social and ethnic justice. The goal of the Brunch is to announce the beginning of community celebrations and reflections in anticipation of Black History Month. The Brunch supports the academic and public service missions of UNM by enabling the university to offer a range of activities and provide an academic perspective that would otherwise be excluded.

Images from the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History & Culture.