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Interviews
Say it Loud! A Conversation with Harvard Law Professor Randall Kennedy 3/30/22
59:36

Say it Loud! A Conversation with Harvard Law Professor Randall Kennedy 3/30/22

An Online Talk with Harvard Law Professor Randall Kennedy On his New Book "Say It Loud! On Race, History and Culture" Wednesday, March 30, 2022 at 7pm In his new book, Harvard Law Professor Randall Kennedy addresses a broad range of the key racial and social justice issues of our time, with essays on “The George Floyd Moment: Promise and Peril,” “Isabel Wilkerson, the Election of 2020, and Racial Caste,” “The Princeton Ultimatum: Anti-racism Gone Awry,” “The Constitutional Roots of ‘Birtherism’,” “Inequality and the Supreme Court,” “Frederick Douglass: Everyone’s Hero,” “Remembering Thurgood Marshall,” “Why Clarence Thomas Ought to be Ostracized,” “The Politics of Black Respectability,” “Policing Racial Solidarity,” and many others. In the preface, Professor Kennedy highlights his three sometimes-contradictory beliefs that run throughout these essays—that race continues to be a major force in America, that there is much to be inspired by when surveying the African American journey from slavery to freedom, and that social relations are complex and messy. Professor Kennedy writes: “I luxuriate in the messiness. I savor the paradox and irony. I try to share with readers my sense of surprise, ambivalence, and humility while seeking to understand the race line in American life.” Professor Kennedy is the Michael R. Klein Professor at Harvard Law School. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall after attending Princeton University, Oxford University, and Yale Law School. He writes for scholarly and general interest publications, and speaks regularly at venues such as The New York Historical Society. Professor Kennedy was interviewed by Doug Mishkin, a frequent OLLI speaker.
Erwin Chemerinsky Discusses His New Book: Worse Than Nothing: The Dangerous Fallacy of Originalism
01:00:23

Erwin Chemerinsky Discusses His New Book: Worse Than Nothing: The Dangerous Fallacy of Originalism

Berkeley Law Professor Erwin Chemerinsky, interviewed by Doug Mishkin, a frequent OLLI at BCC speaker, about his new book: Worse Than Nothing: The Dangerous Fallacy of Originalism. In his new book, Berkeley Law Professor Erwin Chemerinsky deconstructs the so-called “originalist” method that several Supreme Court justices now invoke in attempting to interpret the Constitution according to its purported “original meaning.” Professor Chemerinsky writes that “[o]riginalism is not an interpretive theory at all. It is just the rhetoric conservative justices use to make it seem that they are not imposing their own values, when they are doing exactly that….[O]riginalism is an emperor with no clothes.” Professor Chemerinsky explains in language accessible to lawyers and non-lawyers the background and allure of “originalism,” and then exposes, chapter by chapter, why original intent or meaning ordinarily is an illusion, why “originalism” is incoherent, how it fails to account for modernity and how its proponents are hypocritical in its application. He concludes by defending “non-originalism” and then sounding the alarm of why “non-originalists” should be afraid of so-called “originalism.” Professor Chemerinsky is the Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law and Dean of the Berkeley Law School, University of California at Berkeley. Prior to assuming this position he was the founding dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law, and a professor at Duke Law School, University of Southern California Law School, and DePaul Law School. He is the author of 15 books and over 200 law review articles. He frequently argues appellate cases, including in the United States Supreme Court. In 2022, he was the President of the Association of American Law Schools.
Meet the Lawyer for Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Conversation with Fred Gray 1-12-21
01:29:44

Meet the Lawyer for Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Conversation with Fred Gray 1-12-21

Fred Gray opened his law practice in Montgomery, Alabama in 1954 with the mission of "destroying everything segregated I could find." One year later, this rookie lawyer represented his friend Rosa Parks and Dr. King in the Montgomery Bus protests. That led to a career of landmark cases defeating segregation throughout Alabama, including the Supreme Court case of Gomillion v. Lightfoot, in which the Court rejected the racial gerrymandering of Tuskegee. In his autobiography, Bus Ride to Justice, Gray also describes his representation of Claudette Colvin, the 15-year-old who was arrested on a Montgomery bus nine months before Rosa Parks; his securing an acquittal of Dr. King by an all-white jury in Montgomery of criminal charges of tax evasion; his role in investigating the infamous "Tuskegee Syphilis Study" and securing compensation for the numerous victims; and many other historically significant matters. In this conversation, you'll hear Mr. Gray talk about the judge whom in 1958 he complimented for being a fair judge who treated him courteously, and who went on to become the governor of Alabama--Governor George Wallace. Mr. Gray is also the author of the book The Tuskegee Syphilis Study: An Insiders’ Account of the Shocking Medical Experiment Conducted by Government Doctors Against African American Men and the founder of the Tuskegee History Center. Mr. Gray was interviewed by OLLI instructor and speaker Doug Mishkin, himself a lawyer. OLLI can think of no better way to honor the memory of Dr. King in anticipation of the January 18 Martin Luther King Day than to celebrate the achievements of his lawyer, Fred Gray. Presented in association with the Tuskegee Human & Civil Rights Multicultural Center
Jefferson Cowie on Freedom’s Dominion: A Saga of White Resistance to Federal Power
01:11:33

Jefferson Cowie on Freedom’s Dominion: A Saga of White Resistance to Federal Power

Vanderbilt Professor Jefferson Cowie talks with Doug Mishkin about his Pulitzer Prize-winning book: Freedom’s Dominion: A Saga of White Resistance to Federal Power In his new book, Vanderbilt historian Professor Jefferson Cowie tells the dramatic tale of generations of local fights against the federal government to prop up a particular version of American freedom: the freedom to oppress others. He tells this national story by generalizing from the history of Barbour County in Alabama, beginning with the locals’ oppression of the County’s Creek people, on through Barbour County native Governor George Wallace’s infamous 1963 exhortation of “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever,” and beyond. Professor Cowie will be interviewed by Doug Mishkin, a frequent OLLI speaker and interviewer. Professor Jefferson Cowie holds the James G. Stahlman Chair in American History at Vanderbilt University. His work in social and political history focuses on how class, inequality and labor shape American politics and culture. In 2023 his Freedom’s Dominion won the Pulitzer Prize for History. His other books include Capital Moves: RCA’s Seventy Year Quest for Cheap Labor; The Great Exception: The New Deal and the Limits of American Politics; and Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class. Stayin’ Alive received a number of “best book” awards, including: the 2011 Francis Parkman Prize for the Best Book in American History and the Merle Curti Award for the Best Book in Social and Intellectual History. In addition to his scholarship, Cowie’s essays and opinion pieces have also appeared in the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, TIME magazine, NPR Music, Chronicle of Higher Ed, American Prospect, Politico, Democracy, The New Republic, Inside Higher Ed, Dissent, and other popular outlets. The recipient of several fellowships, including most recently the Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, he has also appeared in a variety of media outlets including CNN’s The Seventies, C‐Span’s Booknotes, NPR’s Weekend Edition, and, released just last week, the PBS documentary The War on Disco. Cowie has been teaching at Vanderbilt since 2016, where he moved after being at Cornell University for nineteen years.
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