Congresswoman Barbara Jordan Speaker Series on Race, Law, & Inequality 2023-2024

A speaker series convened by Boston University School of Law  

Despite the laudable ideals expressed by this nation’s founders, US law has routinely been written, enacted, and interpreted by those in power in ways that reinforce, rather than dismantle, racial inequalityIn this sense, law has become one part of the structures in which racism is embedded. This structural racism touches upon every area of the law, and nearly 250 years into this democratic experiment that is the United States, people of color have still not gained full and equal membership in US society. 

In this new speaker series, we invite leading scholars to examine the intersection between race, inequality, and the law; to reveal how US law, as it is currently written and interpreted, falls short of the ideals on which this country was founded; and to offer their insights on how we may pursue fundamental change in our system of laws that will finally deliver on the promise of equity and justice for all.

The endowment of the Barbara Jordan Speaker Series is made possible through a generous gift from Gary Tischler, a graduate of our Class of 1987.

Past Events

Monday, March 25th, 2024
12:45 – 2:00pm
Boston University School of Law, Barristers Hall
Daniel Kiel, Professor of Law, The University of Memphis

Please Register Here.

The Transition: The Contrasting Views of Black Citizenship That Have Transformed the Supreme Court

In his last opinion as a Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall lamented that changes in the Court’s personnel seemed to be driving the institution away from its role as protector of the powerless. Over the past 70 years, few changes in the Court’s personnel have been as impactful as the one that shortly followed, from Marshall to his successor, Clarence Thomas. Drawing from his recent book, The Transition: Interpreting Justice from Thurgood Marshall to Clarence Thomas, Daniel Kiel will examine how these justices came to their contrasting visions for using law to produce equal Black citizenship and how those visions have influenced and defined the decades-long remaking of the Supreme Court.

Monday, March 18th, 2024
5:30 – 7:30pm
Hotel Commonwealth, 500 Commonwealth Avenue

After Covid, Whats Next? A Conversation with Dean Angela Onwuachi-Willig and Dean Sandro Galea

You are cordially invited to a joint School of Law and School of Public Health Conversation, hosted by our own Dean and Ryan Roth Gallo Professor of Law Angela Onwuachi-Willig and School of Public Health Dean and Robert A. Knox Professor Sandro Galea. This event is part of the BU Conversation with Deanseries, which brings together BU alumni regionally and globally to showcase school synergies and their real-world implications for a healthier world for all. It is also part of the School of Law’s Congresswoman Barbara Jordan Speaker Series on Law, Race, & Inequality.

If you have questions for the BU Deans, there will be an opportunity to submit once you have registered for the event. All alumni and friends of BU are welcome to join us. Light food and beverages served pre and post Q+A with Deans.

Monday, November 6th, 2023
12:45 – 2:00pm
Boston University School of Law, Barristers Hall
Yavilah McCoy, CEO DIMENSIONS Inc

Please join us for lunch prior to the lecture, starting at noon in Barristers Hall. This lecture will be presented in person and recorded for those who are unable to attend in person.

Facing History, Uprooting Racial Inequality and Deepening Housing Justice within the Law

Across America, states are increasingly struggling with an inability to provide the most basic human need to huge swaths of their populations —safe, stable, affordable housing. Millions of renter households are being charged more than they can afford for rent and the deteriorating state of populations without homes across the country has skyrocketed. While this problem affects growing numbers of Americans across the country, studies show people of color to be disproportionately homeless, housing insecure, and burdened by unaffordable rents in 2023.  What has been and should be the role of law in reimagining housing not as a commodity that enriches investors, but as an essential and basic human need?  Yavilah McCoy will share highlights from her work with contemporary advocates, support agencies and activists in the field of housing justice and will discuss the historical and emerging needs for just and equitable laws that lead to the outcome of just and equitable housing for all.

Monday, September 18th, 2023
12:45 – 2:00pm
Boston University School of Law, Barristers Hall
Steven Dean, Boston University School of Law Professor of Law and Paul Siskind Research Fellow

Please join us for lunch prior to the lecture, starting at noon in Barristers Hall.

“Global Jim Crow: Taxation and Racial Capitalism.”
What makes some nations rich and others poor? Why do even the most powerful states struggle to tax giant multinationals? One answer to both questions lies in a system of Global Jim Crow created as a response to fears over the rise of sovereign African states in the late 1950s and 1960s. For more than half a century, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has shielded multinationals from taxation, doing its job so well that even the wealthiest states lack urgently needed tax revenues. More than six decades into its existence, the OECD has still never had a majority-Black member and continues to exploit anti-Black racism to preserve its power.

Monday, April 3rd, 2023
12:45 – 2:00pm
Boston University School of Law, Barristers Hall
The Problem of Entrenchment in a Democracy” presented by Nikolas Bowie, Louis D. Brandeis Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

Tuesday, October 11th, 2022
6:00 – 8:00pm
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, Bank of America Tower, 1 Bryant Park, New York, NY 10036
“Building Equity by Owning Equity: Addressing the Racial Wealth Gap, the Social Justice Issue of Our Time” presented by Trevor Rozier-Byrd ’10

Dean Angela Onwuachi-Willig invites you to join us as we take the Barbara Jordan Lecture Series on the road to New York City in honor the school’s 150th Anniversary this year. The event will feature a talk from BU Law alumnus Trevor Rozier-Byrd ’10, founder and CEO of Stackwell Capital, Inc., and will be followed by a cocktail reception. The event is generously hosted by Akin Gump and Terence Rozier-Byrd ’06.

Spring 2022

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022
4:20 – 5:35pm, Barristers Hall
“Pandemic Effects on Legal Education” presented by Meera E. Deo, Southwestern Law School

Empirical data has documented the ways in which both students and faculty have long faced unique challenges on the pathway to academic and professional success. Students of color, women students, and other historically excluded populations question whether they belong. Women of color professors navigate myriad barriers—including mansplaining, extra service burdens, and a devaluing of their scholarship. New data collected during COVID reveals that these and other challenges have intensified during the pandemic, especially for vulnerable populations, with significant consequences for the future of legal education and the legal profession. Professor Meera E. Deo will share both quantitative and qualitative data on pandemic effects on legal education. Her findings not only document ongoing and lingering experiences, but also propose viable solutions to preserve and augment existing diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Thursday, February 10th, 2022
12:45 – 2pm
“Driving While Black” as “Living While Black” presented by Jamila Jefferson-Jones, Wayne State University Law School

A copy of her paper can be viewed here.
Please view the lecture here.

Black people have long faced obstacles when attempting to access the freedom of mobility represented by the “open road.” The phenomenon of “Driving While Black” is a manifestation of those obstacles. This Essay posits that the restriction of Black freedom through the racialization of space is the common thread that ties “Driving While Black” to the broader phenomenon of “Living While Black.” It examines “Driving While Black” through a lens of spatial structural racism enforced by state-sanctioned police violence in the guise of the pretextual traffic stop and concludes that banning such policing practices is the remedy for “Driving While Black.”

Thursday, March 3rd, 2022
12:45 – 2pm, Barristers Hall and Zoom.
“The Elusive End of Black Residential Freedom” presented by Monica C. Bell, Yale University

To learn more about Professor Bell, please visit her website here.

Dr. Monica C. Bell is Professor of Law & Associate Professor of Sociology at Yale University. Bell works at the intersection of law and sociology, using sociological tools to explore a wide variety of legal questions, mostly those focused on race and class inequality. Some subject matters that Bell has focused on include policing, structural and interpersonal violence, safety and security, welfare and public benefits, and housing and residential segregation. Bell’s scholarship aims to center the voices and perspectives of people who experience legal exclusion. She uses multiple techniques for analysis, theory construction, and data presentation, with an emphasis on qualitative methodology and inductive theory building.

Fall 2021

Thursday, November 4, 2021
12:45 – 2:00 p.m.
Professor K-Sue Park, Georgetown University Law School

Spring 2021

Thursday, March 25, 2021
12:45 – 2:00 p.m.
“Racialized Appearance Norms” Presented by Professor Trina Jones, Duke Law School

Thursday, March 4, 2021
12:45 – 2:00 p.m.
“Strictly Scrutinizing The Black Body.” Presented by Professor Devon Carbado, UCLA School of Law

Fall 2020

Thursday, December 3, 2020
12:45 – 2:00 p.m.
“Detecting Police and Prosecutorial Discrimination: Some Theoretical and Methodological Thoughts,” presented by Professor Issa Kohler-Hausmann, Yale Law School
Moderated by Professor Jonathan Feingold, Boston University School of Law

Thursday, October 8, 2020
12:45 – 2:00 p.m.
“Jim Crow in the 21st Century: The Impact of Crime Free Housing Ordinances and Mass Criminalization on Racial Segregation,” presented by Professor Deborah Archer, NYU School of Law
Moderated by Professor Jade Brown, Boston University School of Law