The Life of Elreta Melton Alexander: Activism within the Courts

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Law, Monographs, United States, Women on 2022-01-19 03:08Z by Steven

The Life of Elreta Melton Alexander: Activism within the Courts

University of Georgia Press
2022-05-01
224 pages
Illustrations: 11 b&w
Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in
Hardcover ISBN: 9-780-8203-6192-5
Paperback ISBN: 9-780-8203-6193-2

Virginia L. Summey, Historian, Author, and Faculty Fellow
Lloyd International Honors College, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

This book explores the life and contributions of groundbreaking attorney, Elreta Melton Alexander Ralston (1919-98). In 1945 Alexander became the first African American woman to graduate from Columbia Law School. In 1947 she was the first African American woman to practice law in the state of North Carolina, and in 1968 she became the first African American woman to become an elected district court judge. Despite her accomplishments, Alexander is little known to scholars outside of her hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina. Her life and career deserve recognition, however, not just because of her impressive lists of “firsts,” but also owing to her accomplishments during the civil rights movement in the U.S. South.

While Alexander did not actively participate in civil rights marches and demonstrations, she used her professional achievements and middle-class status to advocate for individuals who lacked a voice in the southern legal system. Virginia L. Summey argues that Alexander was integral to the civil rights movement in North Carolina as she, and women like her, worked to change discriminatory laws while opening professional doors for other minority women. Using her professional status, Alexander combatted segregation by demonstrating that Black women were worthy and capable of achieving careers alongside white men, thereby creating environments in which other African Americans could succeed. Her legal expertise and ability to reach across racial boundaries made her an important figure in Greensboro history.

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Marginal Citizens: Interracial intimacies and the incarceration of Japanese Canadians, 1942–1949

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Canada, History, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2022-01-11 21:22Z by Steven

Marginal Citizens: Interracial intimacies and the incarceration of Japanese Canadians, 1942–1949

Canadian Journal of Law and Society / La Revue Canadienne Droit et Société
Published online 2021-09-08
DOI: 10.1017/cls.2021.18

Mary Anne Vallianatos, Ph.D. Candidate
University of Victoria School of Law, British Columbia

Following Japan’s 1941 attacks on Hawai’i and Hong Kong, Canada relocated, detained, and exiled citizens and residents of Japanese ancestry. Many interracial families, however, were exempted from this racial project called the internment. The form of the exemption was an administrative permit granted to its holder on the basis of their marital or patrilineal proximity to whiteness. This article analyzes these permits relying on archival research and applying a critical race feminist lens to explore how law was constitutive of race at this moment in Canadian history. I argue that the permits recategorized interracial intimacies towards two racial ends: to differentiate the citizen from the “enemy alien”; and to regulate the interracial family according to patriarchal common law principles. This article nuances received narratives of law as an instrument of racial exclusion by documenting the way in which a new inclusive state measure sustained old exclusions.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Lani Guinier drew on her Black and Jewish roots in a life of outspoken activism

Posted in Articles, Biography, Judaism, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, Social Justice, United States, Women on 2022-01-11 15:30Z by Steven

Lani Guinier drew on her Black and Jewish roots in a life of outspoken activism

Forward
2022-01-07

TaRessa Stovall

This undated file photo shows Lani Guinier(C), President Clinton’s nominee to head the U.S. Civil Rights office of the U.S.
LUKE FRAZZA/AFP via Getty Images

Lani Guinier, the daughter of a white Jewish mother and Black Panamanian father whose nomination by President Clinton to head the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice was opposed by mainstream Jewish organizations, died on Friday.

Guinier, who went on to become the first Black woman on the Harvard Law School faculty as well as its first woman of color given a tenured post, succumbed to complications from Alzheimer’s disease, according to The Boston Globe.

Carrie Johnson, who covers the Justice Department for National Public Radio, tweeted a message from Harvard Law School Dean John Manning confirming Guinier’s death and praising her.

“Her scholarship changed our understanding of democracy – of why and how the voices of the historically underrepresented must be heard and what it takes to have a meaningful right to vote,” Manning’s message said. The dean’s letter to the school community said she died surrounded by friends and family…

Read the entire article here.

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Who’s Afraid of Lani Guinier?

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Judaism, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, United States on 2022-01-11 15:17Z by Steven

Who’s Afraid of Lani Guinier?

The New York Times Magazine
1994-02-27

Lani Guinier

For a late April day in Washington, the air was remarkably soft. The sun-splashed courtyard of the Department of Justice seemed a reflection of the glow surrounding Attorney General Janet Reno. She had just returned from a successful venture to Capitol Hill, where she faced down a committee upset about the recent confrontation with the Branch Davidians. I stood with six other Justice Department nominees to be presented to the public. In what we were told was a last-minute decision, the President himself was to make the presentations. We gathered in the hallway next to the courtyard stage and were lined up in the order we would be introduced. We were given our instructions, and then the President arrived.

The President had a regal bearing. I remember he was wearing a beautifully tailored blue suit. As he strode down the row of nervous nominees he greeted each of us in his typically physical style. He grasped my hand, congratulated me and kissed me lightly on the cheek. As he moved to the others I remember overhearing one of the nominees pass on a greeting from an old friend from Arkansas. The President stepped back and said, with a wistful look in his eye: “I remember Steve. That was when I had a real life.” And I remember the nominee’s response: “Mr. President, this is real life.”

As we were introduced there were cheers and signs saying “Atta girl, Janet!” and the like. I saw many old friends from the Civil Rights Division, where I had worked during the Carter Administration, giving the thumbs-up and smiling. I had not been back in the courtyard in 12 years, and now here I was accepting the nomination to head the Civil Rights Division…

Read the entire article here.

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Pardon for Plessy v. Ferguson’s Homer Plessy is an overdue admission of his heroism

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Louisiana, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2022-01-07 02:49Z by Steven

Pardon for Plessy v. Ferguson’s Homer Plessy is an overdue admission of his heroism

MSNBC
2022-01-05

Keisha N. Blain, Associate Professor of History
University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

In ruling against Homer Plessy in 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized Jim Crow segregation for the next 60 years.
Universal History Archive / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

In rejecting Plessy’s argument that the Jim Crow law implied Black people were inferior, the Supreme Court upheld the notion of “separate but equal.”

Homer Plessy, a Creole shoemaker from New Orleans and the plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson, was pardoned by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Wednesday, 130 years after Plessy challenged a Louisiana law that required Black passengers and white passengers to use separate train cars. The case sanctioned the “separate but equal” doctrine and validated state laws that segregated public facilities along the lines of race. The decision effectively legalized Jim Crow segregation for the next 60 years.

As historian Blair L.M. Kelley explains in “Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019“: “Plessy v. Ferguson was the manifestation of the African American opposition to segregationist attempts to shame and degrade Black train passengers.”

The decision to pardon Homer Plessy is a welcome one, an effort to clear his name and raise national awareness to his story. It is also a symbolic gesture to acknowledge a wrong that took place so long ago. In the proclamation Edwards signed Wednesday, he praised “the heroism and patriotism” of Plessy’s “unselfish sacrifice to advocate for and to demand equality and human dignity for all of Louisiana’s citizens.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Homer Plessy: Pardon for ‘separate but equal’ civil rights figure

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2022-01-06 03:02Z by Steven

Homer Plessy: Pardon for ‘separate but equal’ civil rights figure

BBC News
2022-01-05

Governor Bel Edwards signed the pardon near the site of Plessy’s arrest

The governor of Louisiana has pardoned Homer Plessy, a 19th century black activist whose arrest 130 years ago led to one of the most criticised Supreme Court decisions in US history.

Plessy was arrested in 1892 after he purchased a ticket and refused to leave a whites-only train car in New Orleans.

In 1896, the top US court ruled against Plessy, clearing the way for Jim Crow segregation laws in the American South.

The pardon was spearheaded by the very office that sought charges against him.

After Plessy was removed from the train, his case – Plessy v Ferguson – wound up in front of the Supreme Court. The court ruled that accommodations can exist for different races – a doctrine dubbed “separate but equal“.

Their decision stood for decades, until the landmark 1954 Brown v Board of Education case helped begin to dismantle racial segregation laws..

Read the entire article here.

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Sarawak’s mixed-race children struggle over ‘native’ identity

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Law, Media Archive, Oceania on 2022-01-05 16:38Z by Steven

Sarawak’s mixed-race children struggle over ‘native’ identity

Free Malaysia Today
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
2022-01-05

Wong Pek Mei

Alena Murang and her father Ose and her mother Valerie Mashman.

PETALING JAYA: Alena Murang, who has mixed parentage, discovered only as an adult that she was not legally “native” in her homeland, Sarawak.

Alena, 32, a musician, songwriter and visual artist, said she and many others were oblivious to the issue. Her birth certificate said she was a Kelabit.

Her father Ose Murang, 67, is a Dayak Kelabit community leader and her mother is European.

“Only when I was an adult did I come to understand that in Sarawak, mixed children like myself are not legally native…

Read the entire article here.

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Racial Innocence: Unmasking Latino Anti-Black Bias and the Struggle for Equality

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Latino Studies, Law, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, Social Science, United States on 2021-12-05 22:29Z by Steven

Racial Innocence: Unmasking Latino Anti-Black Bias and the Struggle for Equality

Beacon Press
2022-08-23
208 pages
5.5 x 8.5 Inches
Hardcover ISBN: ISBN: 978-080702013-5

Tanya Katerí Hernández, Archibald R. Murray Professor of Law
Fordham University School of Law, New York, New York

The first comprehensive book about anti-Black bias in the Latino community that unpacks the misconception that Latinos are “exempt” from racism due to their ethnicity and multicultural background.

Racial Innocence will challenge what you thought about racism and bias, and demonstrate that it’s possible for a historically marginalized group to experience discrimination and also be discriminatory. Racism is deeply complex, and law professor and comparative race relations expert Tanya Katerí Hernández exposes “the Latino racial innocence cloak” that often veils Latino complicity in racism. As Latinos are the second largest ethnic group in the US, this revelation is critical to dismantling systemic racism. Based on interviews, discrimination case files, and civil rights law, Hernández reveals Latino anti-Black bias in the workplace, the housing market, schools, places of recreation, criminal justice, and in Latino families.

By focusing on racism perpetrated by communities outside those of White non-Latino people, Racial Innocence brings to light the many Afro-Latino and African American victims of anti-Blackness at the hands of other people of color. Through exploring the interwoven fabric of discrimination and examining the cause of these issues, we can begin to move toward a more egalitarian society.

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Walking the Color Line in 1909

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, History, Law, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-12-05 22:11Z by Steven

Walking the Color Line in 1909

Bygone Brookland
2020-05-21

Robert Malesky

Isabel Wall. Photo from Wall family album, courtesy of Larissa Clayton

Little 7-year-old Isabel Wall, blonde and blue-eyed, bounced along beside her mother as they walked the two blocks from their home at 1019 Kearny Street to the Brookland School at 10th and Monroe. Isabel was to be enrolled in the first grade.

The principal, Mary Little, asked some basic questions and then filled out the form to admit the child and let her begin classes. It wasn’t to last. Ten days later, she withdrew the admission, due to “information subsequently obtained.” The information? School officials had heard that Isabel’s father, Stephen, though he was light-skinned and had a white wife, was in reality a black man. The Brookland School was for whites only…

Note from Steven F. Riley: see the book The Invisible Line: A Secret History of Race in America by Daniel J. Sharfstein.

Read the entire article here.

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Blurring the Lines: James Parker Barnett, Racial Passing, and Invisible Early Black Students at Columbia University

Posted in Articles, Biography, Campus Life, Census/Demographics, History, Law, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2021-11-15 22:01Z by Steven

Blurring the Lines: James Parker Barnett, Racial Passing, and Invisible Early Black Students at Columbia University

Columbia University and Slavery
Columbia University, New York, New York
2018

Ciara Keane

Discussions of racial passing have never been simple, as racial passing involves the traversing of social systems and the manipulation of power structures in a way that is often unsettling. Racial passing, according to Randall Kennedy, is a “deception that enables a person to adopt certain roles or identities from which he would be barred by prevailing social standards in the absence of his misleading conduct”.1 The most typical form of passing that has historically occurred in the United States is that of a black person passing as a white person; in other words, a person who has black ancestry that would societally deem him to be black moving throughout society identifying and performing as a white person. It is important to distinguish between a passer and a person who is not aware of their racial ancestry; while a passer is actively cognizant of their background and intentionally living as another race, many individuals are simply unaware of their race and fully believe themselves to be of the race they are living as, even though the facts of their racial ancestry would classify them as a different race than the one they identify as.2 The reasons for racial passing vary, but individuals usually decide to pass in order to reap the benefits that come with being of the race they are passing as. For example, a person may pass in order to access better job prospects, receive a higher level of education, or to occupy any other space that was typically off limits for their race.3

In a society like that of the United States which exists as a social hierarchy stratified by race and class, racial passers have been considered a significant threat to the structures that uphold white supremacy. For white people in America, “the core of ‘the American national character’ was a denial of legitimacy and privilege based exclusively on descent”.4 In other words, American society was and is inherently structured based on the hoarding of privilege by the white race and the denial of this privilege to minority groups, which above all applies to African-Americans. Therefore, minorities who pass as white pose a grave threat to the maintenance of this structure, as the act of passing blurs the barrier between the privileged elite and the oppressed. Although the infamous one-drop rule was not formally adopted until the 1920s5, the American South’s desire to hold onto the racial caste created by slavery led the entire nation to spend the years of 1850 to 1915 “turning from a society in which some blackness in a person might be overlooked to one in which no single iota of color was excused”.6 States like North Carolina and Virginia had laws prior to the solidification of the one-drop rule within the 18th and 19th century that defined as white those with less than one-fourth, one-eighth, or one-sixteenth African “blood”, but these rules were always overridden by rules of slavery which could deem even a person with one-sixty-fourth black “blood” to be black if their mother was a slave.7 By time the one-drop rule was written into law, which classified a person as black if they had any hint of African “blood” no matter how small and no matter their phenotypical appearance, any advantage that Mulattos may have enjoyed post-slavery that elevated them slightly above Black people without any white “blood” had long disappeared, and Mulattoes had been solidified as indistinguishable from any other member of the black race.8

Read the entire article here.

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