Commitment to Racial Justice
Minnesota Law’s Commitment to Racial and 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.
On May 25, 2021, Dean Jenkins sent a message reflecting on the past year to the Minnesota Law community.
Our Curriculum: Select Courses Dedicated to Racial & Social Justice and the Law
Below is a list of selected courses Minnesota Law has offered that are related to social and racial justice and the law. We continue to revise our curriculum and work with community members and faculty on new and returning courses for each semester.
- George Floyd’s Minneapolis: Past, Present, and Moving Forward with Dean Garry 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)
- Race and American Law with Adjunct Professor Ra’Shya Ghee ’13 (6953)
- Civil Rights: Citizenship and Human Rights with Professor Christoper Roberts (6621)
- Equal Protections and Civil Rights Act with Professor Myron Orfield (6084)
- Poverty and Human Rights with Adjunct Professor Amanda Lyons (6879)
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 chairs the Diversity & Belonging Affinity Council. Student leaders from each affinity student organization serve on the council 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.
Chauvin Trial Resources, Reactions, and Support
- A Message from Dean Jenkins in Solidarity after the Chauvin Trial Verdict
- The Black Law Students Association (BLSA) has issued a statement following the trial and conviction. Read the BLSA Statement on the Derek Chauvin Verdict.
- The University of Minnesota has created a Trial Community Support and Education page.
Law Students Offer Community Support for Chauvin Trial through Legal Rights Center
Mica Standing Soldier, Emanual Williams, and Tony Sanchez - all 1Ls - were recently hired for three public-interest clerkships at the Legal Rights Center (LRC). Now and through the summer, they will coordinate public education and civic engagement efforts relating to the trials of Derek Chauvin and the other three former Minneapolis police officers charged in the killing of George Floyd. The clerkships are part of a unique collaboration between the LRC and Minnesota Law.
Read Minnesota Law Students Take on Chauvin Trial Community Support with Local Nonprofit and watch the recent KARE-11 interview with Mica, Emanual, and Tony about their roles with the Legal Rights Center.
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
With a generous gift from Catlan M. McCurdy ’11 and Sanjiv P. Laud ’12, and an equal match from the Law School, the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship in Law was announced in June 2020.
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.
- 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.