Prize-winning Legal Scholar & Historian, Dean of Harvard’s Renowned Radcliffe Institute
Tomiko Brown Nagin is a prize-winning author, eminent legal scholar and historian, dean of Harvard’s renowned Radcliffe Institute, and pathbreaking leader in higher education. Her groundbreaking book, Courage to Dissent, won the Bancroft Prize in 2011, and her latest book, The Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and Struggles for Equality (Pantheon, 2022), has received rave reviews. Read More >
The Constitution, the Court, and Social Change | Radcliffe Institute
Social Movements and Social Change in Twentieth Century | Harvard Law School
Institutions of higher education have often been considered vital to social mobility and achievement of the American Dream. But there is a gap between these ideals and reality of higher education. Historically divided by race and gender, many colleges and universities excluded or discriminated against people of color and women for hundreds of years. Moreover, disparities in access and equity in k-12 education, created by both governments and private actors, have resulted in race- and wealth-based opportunity gaps. And political conflict increasingly encroaches upon and is reflected in classrooms. Against the backdrop of historical inequities, persistent disparities, and deepening cultural divisions, how can colleges and universities promote access, equity and belonging for diverse populations? Transformational change requires rethinking conventional distinctions between secondary and higher education, public and private institutions, and between individual success and collective advancement.
The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s made ground-breaking racial change, helped inspire liberation movements by women and other people of color, and set the terms for today’s debates over equity and inclusion in American society. This talk discusses lessons the movement offers to today’s aspiring changemakers about how to frame agendas, mobilize supporters, and create alliances across difference in pursuit of fundamental societal change.
How did the daughter of working-class West Indian immigrants become a pathbreaking leader in the 20th century’s struggles for racial and gender equality? Given where she started, no one — not even her parents — would have predicated her rise. Yet Motley, a famed civil rights lawyer and protegee of Thurgood Marshall, helped vanquish Jim Crow laws. She helped litigate Brown v. Board of Education, defended Martin Luther King in Birmingham, and represented James Meredith in his quest to end segregation at the University of Mississippi. And through her role as the first black woman appointed to the federal judiciary, Motley helped open the professional workplace to women. She both embodied and made change in the American power structure. Learn how a combination of smarts, grit, male sponsors, female networks, and philanthropic support took her to the top of the legal profession and consider what her rise means for women and people of color striving for success today.
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