Race, Law & Citizenship Seminar with Professor Kathleen Cleaver


Through enormous good fortune, Prof. Kathleen Cleaver has kindly agreed to visit the University of Michigan Law School to teach a student-initiated and student-sponsored seminar on Race, Law, and Citizenship from October 5 to 12. 

Her visit will include four seminar sessions, (October 5, 6, 10, & 11 at noon), a film screening (October 7 at 6 PM) and a Public Forum event (October 12 at noon). The film screening and the public forum event are open to all students, faculty, staff, and members of the general public. The four seminar sessions will be open to twelve participants, through application.

Seminar students will have the opportunity to begin a short paper, under the guidance of Prof. Cleaver, on any topic related to the course topics and materials. Final papers from the class will be collected into an edited volume, for publication by the National Lawyers Guild at the University of Michigan Law School. Participation in the seminar is open to students, faculty, alumni, and members of the general public via application. A background in law and/or activist experience is recommended but not required.  

The seminar explores issues of rights through the lens of American legal history in the arena of citizenship, race, and democracy. The seminar begins in the 19th century with Crandall v. Connecticut, a case where a progressive state Supreme Court judgment was powerless against the anger of a local mob, and ends in the Civil Rights Movement, and will include a screening of a specially selected film on race and colonialism.  

Professor Cleaver, a world-renowned legal scholar and an early founder and leader of the Black Panther Movement has not only exceptional knowledge, but also extraordinary firsthand experience in the field of civil rights. Taught in the broader context of the upcoming 2016 presidential elections, this seminar affords students timely consideration of the recurrent themes in American legal and political history. Vann Newkirk, a writer at the Atlantic, and a co-founder of Seven Scribes, will be participating in the first class session on October 5, 2016, with further participants for the Public Forum to be announced shortly. 

Prof. Cleaver graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in History from Yale, and received her J.D. from Yale Law School. After graduating, she worked for the law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, and clerked for the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia.

The course is sponsored by the Afro-American and African Studies Department, the Michigan Journal of Race & Law, the Black Law Students Association at the University of Michigan Law School, the Racial Justice Coalition at the University of Michigan Law School, the National Lawyers Guild at the University of Michigan Law School, the American Constitution Society at the University of Michigan Law School, and the American Civil Liberties Union at the University of Michigan Law School.