Commitment to Racial Justice
Minnesota Law’s Commitment to Social Justice
The University of Minnesota Law School is committed to creating a more just society for our local, national, and international communities. Alongside many of you, we have been working hard toward change, but we know there is still a long road ahead. Racial and social justice work is both urgent and long-term, and Minnesota Law’s mission—focused on education, outreach, and research—includes a shared responsibility to educate lawyer-leaders who will also work to bring about justice and change. The lives of our BIPOC students, faculty, staff, and alumni community members matter and we are energized and determined to succeed in this important work.
You can learn more about what Minnesota Law is doing to bring about change by reading Dean Jenkins’ response to an open letter from law students about Minnesota Law’s commitment to racial justice.
Our Curriculum: New and Returning Courses
For Fall 2020, we offered the following new and returning courses related to racial justice, in addition to our regularly-scheduled courses. We continue to revise our curriculum and work with community members and faculty on new courses for spring.
- George Floyd’s Minneapolis: Past, Present, and Moving Forward with Dean Jenkins & Professor Perry Moriearty (6869)
- Race and the Law: Systems, Structures, and Solutions with Adjunct Professor Judge Nicole Starr (6915)
- Public Interest Advocacy and State Attorney General with Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison ‘90 (6821)
- International Human Rights with Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin (6886)
Learn more about how the Law School expanded its racial justice curriculum.
To view these course offerings, visit our course guide.
Our Ongoing Commitment to Racial Equity & Justice
To inform our longstanding commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, Dean Jenkins appointed a new Racial Equity & Justice Committee, which includes faculty, leadership, and students, and is tasked with working towards structural change by developing and tracking actions, and providing accountability and transparency on our efforts.
Assistant Dean of Students Erin Keyes is chairing the Diversity & Belonging Affinity Council (formerly the Diversity & Belonging Committee), along with Nubia Esparza (Senior Coordinator of Diversity & Student Programs), and Simona Suen (Senior Recruiting and Diversity Coordinator), and student leaders from each affinity student organization, with goals of creating pathways for involvement and input from the student community, collaborating on programming for our ongoing discussion series, and providing feedback to the Racial Equity & Justice Committee.
Read more about equity, diversity, and inclusion at Minnesota Law.
Minnesota Law’s Response to the Killing of George Floyd
In his June 1 message to the Minnesota Law community, Dean Garry W. Jenkins wrote:
“Our mission at the University of Minnesota Law School is to educate lawyer-leaders who make a difference to people, organizations, the profession, and the world. I hope you will all stand with me in acknowledging the deep, troubling, and systemic inequities in this country, as well as dedicating ourselves to making the changes necessary to address injustice. Our clinics, which have long-been deeply connected to and in service to our community, will expand its efforts. We also seek to bolster our research and understanding of the problems and potential solutions. I look forward to working collaboratively with our faculty, staff, and students on more and new ideas and initiatives to bring our skills, ideas, knowledge, and resources to bear.”
Where Minnesota Law Stands
- Dean Jenkins and Dean Laura Bloomberg Co-Write Op-Ed in MinnPost About the Path Forward to Justice in Wake of Tragic Killing of George Floyd
- A Message from the Dean: On the Death of Minneapolis Resident George Floyd (May 27, 2020)
- A Message from the Dean: George Floyd and the Fight for Justice (June 1, 2020)
- Black Law Student Association (BLSA) Statement to the Law School Community on Justice for George Floyd
- In a guest post for Law Professor’s Blog, Amanda Lyons, executive director of University of Minnesota Human Rights Center, reflects on the murder of George Floyd and the fight for change in the future, one that puts human rights and dignity at the forefront. Read Amanda’s post here.
The George Floyd Memorial Scholarship in Law
The endowed scholarship will provide critical financial support, allowing underrepresented students, and Black or African-American students in particular, to pursue careers in the law and achieve their dreams.
“Mr. Floyd’s killing was a tragic reminder of the inequity and injustice facing Black Americans today, despite the decades that have passed since the civil rights movement,” McCurdy and Laud observe in their statement announcing the establishment of the scholarship. They expressed a hope that recipients of this scholarship will join the legal profession and join Minnesota Law alumni in advocating for racial justice and equality. Read more and support the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship in Law.
Law and the Struggle for Racial Justice: A Digital Exhibit from the Law Library
The Riesenfeld Rare Books Research Center opened a new fall exhibit, Law and the Struggle for Racial Justice, on September 8th. Students may tour the exhibit individually by appointment. For a preview of two items featured in the exhibit, see the Center’s recent blog posts on the Sweet murder trials and the 1935 Harlem riot. Please contact Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to arrange a visit to the exhibit.
Minnesota Law in the News
When Professor Perry Moriearty put a call out for Minnesota Law students and recent graduates to help individuals arrested protesting the tragic killing of George Floyd, she had no idea that, only four hours later, she’d have 100-plus volunteers register for training.
“It was incredible,” said Prof. Moriearty, who had asked only a handful of students to get the word out.
The hour-long virtual training session prepared students to staff a legal support hotline run by the Legal Rights Center (LRC) and the National Lawyers Guild’s Minnesota Chapter. The hotline helps protesters who were arrested and their families get the legal and emotional support they need. Read the full story online in Minnesota Law Magazine.
- Rising 3L Rachel Wydra Leads Grassroots Effort to Promote Police Transparency in Her Hometown
- Prof. Frase Quoted in Newsweek Article Examining Potential Legal Arguments in Case Brought Against Four Former Police Officers Charged in the Tragic Killing of George Floyd
- Prof. Orfield Quoted in Time Magazine About Increased Segregation in Housing and Schools and Its Impact on Social Unrest
- Prof. Borgida Quoted in Popular Science Article on Police Training and Implicit Racial Bias
- Prof. Carol Chomsky recently co-authored a piece with three law professors in Bloomberg Law, called “INSIGHT: Lawyers Justice Corps—Public Service in a Time of Crisis”
- Prof. Rozenshtein Quoted in the Star Tribune About Drone Surveillance of Protests
- Prof. Orfield and Research Fellow Stancil Pen Op-Ed in New York Times on Tragic Killing of George Floyd and Racial Segregation in Twin Cities
- Profs. Blumenthal and Frase Quoted in NBC News on Upgraded Charges for Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin in the Killing of George Floyd
- Prof. Frase Interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight Regarding Upgraded Charges Against Former Minneapolis Police Officer in Connection with the Killing of George Floyd
- Prof. Frase Quoted in New York Times Regarding Legal Basis for Third-Degree Murder Charge Brought Against Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin in the Tragic Killing of George Floyd
- Review: The University of Minnesota Libraries Mapping Prejudice Project
- Read: A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota
- Participate in One Book, One Minnesota through the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library
- Watch: Jim Crow of the North on TPT’s “Minnesota Experience”
- Read: The University of Minnesota Press is making a collection of books exploring racial justice free to read online through August 31. Reading for Racial Justice includes work by authors Carolyn Holbrook, Shannon Gibney, Kao Kalia Yang William D. Green, and many more.