PUBLISHED:January 05, 2010

Center on Law, Race and Politics to host conference on race in America in honor of John Hope Franklin

Duke’s Center on Law, Race and Politics will host an extraordinary gathering of intellectuals as they examine the past, present, and future of race in America at its inaugural conference. “From Slavery to Freedom to the White House: Race in 21st-Century America, A Conference in Honor of John Hope Franklin” will be held at the Law School April 8 through 10.

The conference will bring together leading scholars from a range of disciplines including law, history, political science, economics, philosophy, sociology, and journalism for a series of roundtable conversations that consider issues of race, racial identity, and racial inequality. Professor Guy-Uriel Charles, co-director of the Center on Law, Race and Politics, and Professor Kenneth Mack of Harvard Law School serve as co-convenors.

The conference honors the life and work of the late John Hope Franklin, a remarkable scholar and public figure who spent the last part of his career teaching at Duke Law School. “We want to publicly acknowledge our intellectual debt of gratitude to Dr. Franklin, whose scholarship illuminated so many fields of inquiry, including law. Dr. Franklin was also a generous friend to a number of individuals at the Law School,” said Charles.

Conference participants will identify questions about the future of race or racial inequality that need to be explored but are not currently being addressed or are given insufficient attention in scholarly and public discourse, he said. “For example, to what extent is race something other than a site of grievance? To what extent is it simply a negative, victim-centered framework and to what extent ought it be a more positive, empowering framework? To what extent can we reframe the stories we tell about race?” The convenors anticipate the discussion will support the development of a “sustainable, collaborative, interdisciplinary community of scholars committed to a more longterm, in-depth exploration of these types of issues,” added Charles.

Launched in the fall of 2009, the Duke Center on Law, Race and Politics (LRP) is a multidisciplinary initiative created to support research, public engagement, teaching, and activities at the intersection of LRP’s core focus, which is law and race; law and politics; and law, race, and politics. It is affiliated with Duke University’s Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences. Duke Law Professor G. Mitu Gulati serves as LRP co-director. Future LRP activities include symposia, conferences, academic workshops, public lectures, The Book Project, and “scholarship roundtables.” “Our hope is that these projects will bring to the Law School scholars who are working at the frontier of law, race, and politics,” said Charles.