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Charles Hamilton Houston Institute Hosts Panel On Racial Integration In Public Schools

Posted by DallasBlackBlog on Sunday, September 16, 2007

September 7, 2007

king

Lawyers George Hayes,
Thurgood Marshall,
and James M. Nabrit
join hands outside
the U.S. Supreme Court
to celebrate Brown vs. Education.

The Supreme Court’s recent rulings overturning desegregation plans by school districts in Seattle and Louisville were the focus of a special panel discussion sponsored by Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice on September 6.

In June, a sharply divided Court restricted the ability of public school districts to use race to determine which schools students can attend, a decision that could severely limit integration programs nationwide. The justices split along ideological grounds, with five justices ruling that the school placement schemes under review violated the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.

Like most of the analysis since the decision, the panel discussion focused on the concurring opinion filed by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy ’61, who cast the deciding vote with the court’s conservatives to strike down the school plans but specifically declined to follow key parts of the plurality opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr. ’79.

Kennedy wrote: “Parts of the opinion by the Chief Justice imply an all-too-unyielding insistence that race cannot be a factor in instances when, in my view, it may be taken into account. The plurality opinion is too dismissive of the legitimate interest government has in ensuring all people have equal opportunity regardless of their race.

Justice Kennedy’s concurring opinion has become a source of hope for those who support racial integration efforts, said panelist Nadine Cohen, staff counsel on the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law of the Boston Bar Association. “The idea that we can be color-blind in our education policies really ignores the reality of life and race in America today,” she said. “I think Justice Kennedy has left a window open for us, and we need to climb through that window, but not by contorting desegregation programs we know have worked.”

Another panelist, Anurima Bhargava, director of the education group in the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, said Kennedy’s opinion served as a “stop-gap” against the majority opinion, which would have otherwise gone a lot further towards outlawing desegregation efforts in public schools.

Cynthia Valenzuela, director of litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, admitted that the Court’s decision has already made it more difficult for public school districts in Arizona and California to implement desegregation policies. Latinos in particular have already faced more public school segregation since the ruling, she said.

Other panelists included: Dennis Parker from the American Civil Liberties Union, Khin Mai Aung from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and john a. powell from the Kirwan Institute for Race and Ethnicity.

The panel event also commemorated Charles Hamilton Houston’s 112th Birthday. Professor Charles Ogletree, the Houston Institute’s executive director, and Charles Hamilton Houston, Jr. were on hand to unveil a portrait of the Institute’s namesake. It will hang at Harvard Law School.

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Posted in African American, African American Lawyers, American Civil Liberties Union, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Black, Black Lawyers, Brown v. Board of Education, Charles Hamilton Houston, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, Civil Rights, Desegregation, Education, Harvard Law School, Kirwan Institute for Race and Ethnicity, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Professor Charles Ogletree, Public Education, Race, Racism, Thurgood Marshall, Urban Education | Leave a Comment »

Harvard’s Black Law Student Association Receives The National Johnny Cochran Award for Social Consciousness

Posted by DallasBlackBlog on Sunday, September 16, 2007

September 14, 2007

Harvard BLSA

Members of the Harvard BLSA
accept the national award

Last spring Harvard Law School’s Black Law Students Association (BLSA) was selected by a committee of individuals from around the country to receive the national Johnny Cochran Chapter Award for Social Consciousness.

“Given all that we did last year it was a wonderful acknowledgement,” said Stacey Moore ’08, historian of Harvard’s BLSA chapter last year. “This award was very exciting and we were humbled and proud.”

The Johnny Cochran award is given annually at the district and national level. Harvard received the award at both levels last spring for the chapter’s participation in community service programs and for increasing awareness about issues affecting the black community.

With nearly 150 members, the Harvard BLSA is the largest Black Law Students chapter in the country. Each year, the Harvard group organizes events on campus with the goal of assisting members in the development of their legal careers. The National Black Law Students Association is comprised of over 200 student chapters around the country.

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Posted in African American, African American Lawyers, Black, Black Law Students Association, Black Lawyers, BLSA, Harvard BLSA, Harvard Law School, Johnny Cochran Award, Legal, Race | Leave a Comment »