Black History Month Virtual Panel Discussion: The Dissenter: Justice John Marshall Harlan Co-hosted by DACOR, Ambassador Club International, Association of Black American Ambassadors, Black Professionals in International Affairs & the Thursday Luncheon Group
TO REGISTER, please click the button at the end of the speaker bios - all those who register will be sent an email with information on how to join the virtual event.
In these uncertain times, with a renewed focus on the country’s troubled racial history, what can we learn from the past that might help in reckoning with longstanding episodes of injustice and possibly helping in reaching a new understanding of a way forward?
Join us for a conversation and Q&A about the life of Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan, with author Steve Luxenberg and University of North Carolina law professor Theodore M. Shaw. They will discuss and debate Harlan’s evolution from Kentucky slaveholder son and defender of slavery into a champion of equal rights and a singular voice among the justices for a broader view of the Constitutional amendments that ended slavery and promised “equal protection” to all citizens, regardless of race.
Harlan had his flaws, but his reputation as “the Great Dissenter” was cemented by his opposition to the court’s ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 case synonymous with “separate but equal.” It took 50 years for the court to turn away from the Plessy ruling, and to embrace some of Harlan’s reasons for dissenting. What does that tell us about the importance of dissent in a democracy? What does Harlan’s example tell us about the ability of people to change their views?
The discussion will be moderated by Michael Krenn, professor of history at Appalachian State University, author of Black Diplomacy: African Americans and the State Department 1945-1969, and a DACOR member.
Theodore M. Shaw is the Julius Chambers Distinguished Professor of Law and the director of the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina. He worked for 26 years at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, from 1982 to 2008, serving as the Fund’s director-counsel and president. He previously taught at the University of Michigan and Columbia University, and is an expert on civil rights law, voting rights and the Fourteenth Amendment.
Steve Luxenberg, an associate editor at the Washington Post, is the author of the 2019 book Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America's Journey from Slavery to Segregation. During his forty years as an editor and reporter, Steve has overseen reporting that has earned many national honors for his reporters, including two Pulitzer Prizes. Separate was selected as a New York Times Notable Book and longlisted for the Cundill History Prize, an international award recognizing the best history writing in English.