Reflecting on Race

UVA Law Conference Features Leading Critical Race Theory Scholars
Jim Ryan and James Forman

UVA President Jim Ryan ’92, an expert on educational opportunity, led a Q&A Thursday at The Paramount Theater with keynote speaker James Forman Jr. Photos by Julia Davis and Mary Wood

October 3, 2018

Scholars gathered in Charlottesville last week to explore the history of racism, current racial division and how to combat it after the events of Aug. 11-12, 2017, during a University of Virginia School of Law conference.

The event, “One Year After Charlottesville: Replacing the Resurgence of Racism With Reconciliation,” kicked off Thursday night at The Paramount Theater with Yale law professor James Forman Jr., the son of civil rights activists, who lectured on “Claiming Your Power: American Racism, the Alt-Right, and Radical Resistance.” Forman is the author of “Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America,” which won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction.

He tallied a range of myths that whites deployed to defend slavery and its aftermath of segregation and racism, including the idea that black people were inherently savage.

“These explanations, these rationalizations — those become the myths and the lies that a racist society depends on, and the myths don’t die easily,” he said. “The laws may change, but the lies linger in our consciousness, in our societal DNA, and in all of us — in people of all colors, orientations and political persuasions.”

Afterward, Forman sat for a Q&A with UVA President Jim Ryan ’92 and audience members.

Friday’s conference events included panels on race and the body, policing communities, institutions’ ability to shape race and confront racism, and social mobility among communities of color.

A lecture by Dean Risa Goluboff opened the event, and Theodore M. Shaw, the fifth director-counsel and president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., and a University of North Carolina law professor, delivered the lunch keynote address.

The event was sponsored by the University of Virginia School of Law, the Carter G. Woodson Institute, the Center for the Study of Race and Law, and the Virginia Law Review. Papers from the conference will be published in the Virginia Law Review in a symposium issue.

  • Rachel Schmelkin

    Rachel Schmelkin, rabbi educator at Congregation Beth Israel in Charlottesville, led the audience in a song about reconciliation at the start of the conference Friday.

  • Alex M. Johnson Jr.

    UVA Law professor Alex M. Johnson Jr., former director of the Center for the Study of Race and Law, introduced Dean Risa Goluboff.

  • Risa Goluboff

    Dean Risa Goluboff spoke about how the forgotten history of race led some to be shocked at the events of Aug. 11-12, 2017.

  • Jonathan Kahn, Courtney Davis, Khiara Bridges, Annette Gordon-Reed, Dayna Bowen Matthew, Terence Keel

    The first panel included Jonathan Kahn of Mitchell Hamline School of Law, UVA Law student Courtney Davis ’20, Khiara Bridges of Boston University School of Law, Annette Gordon-Reed of Harvard, Dayna Bowen Matthew ’87 of UVA Law, and Terence Keel of the University of California, Los Angeles.

  • Annette Gordon-Reed

    Gordon-Reed won the Pulitzer Prize in history for “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family.”

  • Jonathan Kahn, Khiara Bridges, Terence Keel

    Kahn, Bridges and Keel discuss the intersection of race, law and the science of the body.

  • Dayna Bowen Matthew

    UVA Law professor Dayna Bowen Matthew helped organize the conference. Matthew is the William L. Matheson and Robert M. Morgenthau Distinguished Professor of Law, the F. Palmer Weber Research Professor of Civil Liberties and Human Rights, and Professor of Public Health Sciences at UVA.

  • Dayna Bowen Matthew, Tim Heaphy

    Matthew talks with University Counsel Tim Heaphy ’91, who served on the second panel, on policing communities.

  • Laura E. Gómez, Jeffrey Fagan, Jennifer Chacón

    Laura E. Gómez of the University of California, Los Angeles; Jeffrey Fagan of Columbia University; and Jennifer Chacón of UCLA School of Law talk about policing communities.

  • Kim Forde-Mazrui

    UVA Law professor Kim Forde-Mazrui is director of the Center for the Study of Race and Law, the Mortimer M. Caplin Professor of Law, and the Earle K. Shawe Professor of Employment Law.

  • Theodore Shaw

    Theodore Shaw directs UNC’s Center for Civil Rights.

  • Victor Quintanilla, Claudrena Harold, Greg Mitchell

    Victor Quintanilla of the University of Indiana Maurer School of Law, Claudrena Harold of the UVA Corcoran Department of History and Greg Mitchell of UVA Law participate in a panel on institutions.

  • Daria Roithmayr, Toccara Nelson, Angela Onwuachi-Willig

    Daria Roithmayr of the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, UVA Law student Toccara Nelson ’19 and Dean Angela Onwuachi-Willig of Boston University School of Law participate in a panel on social mobility.

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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