UNC Center for Civil Rights Presents Symposium on the Past, Present and Future of the Equal Protection Clause

December 10, 2020
Speakers include Theodore Shaw, Eric Foner, Eric Holder, Erwin Chemerinsky

On February 18 and 19, the UNC Center for Civil Rights will present “Equal Protection’s Grand Promise and Betrayals: Reconstruction, Plessy to Bakke and Beyond: Is There a Way Forward?” The symposium will explore the origins, present status, and the future promise of the Equal Protection Clause. Speakers and panelists will discuss how the U.S. Supreme Court may have lost its jurisprudential way, with far-reaching and adverse consequences, especially for people of color, in the areas of school desegregation, housing and employment law, access to governmental services, the criminal justice system, voting rights, and higher education.

The two-day online symposium will include an opening address by Erwin Chemerinsky, dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law.

Theodore Shaw, Julius L. Chamber Distinguished Professor of Law, director of the UNC Center for Civil Rights and former director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund will deliver Thursday’s afternoon address entitled “Bakke’s Cruel Consequence: The Disappearance of Black Voices in Affirmative Action Litigation.”

On Thursday, at 12:15 p.m., Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Emeritus Professor of History at Columbia University will deliver the Frank Porter Graham Lecture. The Frank Porter Graham lecture series honors the late U.S. Senator and president of the University of North Carolina, who was a champion of freedom, democracy, and the disadvantaged. The lecture is made possible by the gift of Taylor McMillan, who established the Frank Porter Graham Lecture Series.

On Friday, at 9:00 a.m., former Attorney General Eric Holder will deliver the Weil Lecture. The Institute for the Arts and Humanities has hosted UNC’s Weil Lecture on American Citizenship since 2000. Brothers Henry and Solomon Weil established the lecture in 1915 to widen the discussion of the concept in the United States. Presidents Taft and Carter, Eleanor Roosevelt, Senators J. William Fulbright and Nancy Kassebaum and Professor Lester Thurow are among the many distinguished Weil lecturers.

This symposium brings together some of the nation’s foremost legal scholars, attorneys, and advocates to reflect on the history and discuss the future of the Equal Protection Clause. Registration is free and open to the public.