Seton Hall Law hosted the Third National People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference, the largest gathering of diverse law faculty in the United States. More than 500 faculty, practitioners, and students from across the country, Canada, and the United Kingdom came to Newark, New Jersey for the four-day conference, which took place September 9-12, 2010. The conference fulfilled the promise that the six regional People of Color scholarship conferences—the Mid-Atlantic, Midwestern, Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, and Western—made in 1999 to come together approximately every five years to examine and support the role of faculty of color in the teaching of law.
The keynote speakers and panelists discussed critical national and global issues including health care, education, immigration, human rights, civil rights, voting rights, judicial nominations, environmental justice, the family in the 21st century, corporate responsibility, legal education, the “war on terror,” federal Indian law, and criminal law. In accordance with the conference theme, Our Country, Our World in a “Post-Racial” Era, the speakers addressed these issues through the lens of legal scholarship that explicitly and implicitly examines the current racial context.
The conference began with a Pipeline Program for promising young scholars seeking to enter the legal academy. It was followed by a plenary in which renowned legal scholars examined whether the U.S. is in post-racial era. The Honorable Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey delivered the keynote dinner address on the first day of the conference. The next morning a distinguished panel examined the continuing legacy of Professor Derrick Bell, one of the most influential African-American legal scholars, and concluded with remarks by Professor Bell himself. Other conference highlights included a plenary on the Jurisprudence of Justice John Paul Stevens with the Honorable Joseph A. Greenaway, Jr, U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, Professors Michelle Adams and Margaret Lemos of Cardozo School of Law, and Seton Hall Law Professor Baher Azmy; a discussion with media leaders on the Media’s Role in the Construction of Post-Racialism; a closing plenary examining the role of academics in social justice movements; keynote addresses by Gay McDougall, United Nations Independent Expert on Minority Issues; Kathleen Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy; Keith Harper, Former Justice of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and a leading expert on the challenges faced by tribal nations; and a special discussion with Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., facilitated by Professor Michele Goodwin of the University of Minnesota School of Law. Conference participants enjoyed exhibits at the Newark Museum and a presentation of Revolution‘67, a documentary about the 1967 race riots and their relevance to urban communities today.
It is impossible to describe the richness of the conference, and its more than 100 panels and workshops, in a few paragraphs. However, we hope to have captured some of the highlights in the video which will be posted on this site in the coming weeks. An article written on the event, in Diverse Magazine, can be found here.
Seton Hall Law served as a fitting site for the conference. The only private law school in New Jersey, Seton Hall Law is committed to social justice and diversity in the profession, as demonstrated by its diverse faculty, its thirty year-old Legal Education Opportunities (LEO) admissions program for students from underrepresented communities, numerous clinics that serve the indigent and underserved, and its partnership with pipeline programs such as the Summer Institute for Pre-Legal Studies and New Jersey Law and Education Empowerment Project (NJ LEEP).
By all accounts, the Third National People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference was a success. We all look forward to the next national conference in 2015, location TBA.