Congresswoman Barbara Jordan Speaker Series on Race, Law, & Inequality 2022-2023

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.

Spring 2023

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

Please Register Here.

The United States Constitution was written in the name of “We, the People.” But “the People” who were alive in 1787 passed away long ago. And most people who are alive now have never had a formal opportunity to participate in drafting, amending, or deciding what our fundamental law should look like in our own century. The U.S. Constitution today is one of the most difficult to amend in the world. 

In a democratic government of the people, by the people, for the people—one in which we, the living people, rule—how should we address the problem of rules written by our dead predecessors? If those rules are impossible to amend, must we still obey them? In the immortal words of Barbara Jordan, how can you or I ensure that we are included among “the People” who define the fundamental rules of our democracy?

Past Events

Fall 2022

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