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CSLS Speaker Series – CHRISTOPHER SCHMIDT
Monday, April 16, 2018 @ 12:45 pm - 2:00 pm
The Center for the Study of Law and Society
is pleased to announce the next talk in the Spring 2018 CSLS Speaker Series,
Christopher Schmidt is Associate Professor of Law at Chicago-Kent College of Law and Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation
He will be speaking on his book
The Sit-Ins: Protest and Legal Change in the Civil Rights Era
(University of Chicago Press, 2018)
On February 1, 1960, four African American college students entered the Woolworth department store in Greensboro, North Carolina, and sat down at the lunch counter. This lunch counter, like most in the American South, refused to serve black customers. The four students remained in their seats until the store closed. In the following days, they returned, joined by growing numbers of fellow students. These “sit-in” demonstrations soon spread to other southern cities, drawing in thousands of students and coalescing into a protest movement that would transform the struggle for racial equality.
The Sit-Ins tells the story of the student lunch counter protests and the national debate they sparked over the meaning of the constitutional right of all Americans to equal protection of the laws. Christopher W. Schmidt describes how behind the now-iconic scenes of African American college students sitting in quiet defiance at “whites only” lunch counters lies a series of underappreciated legal dilemmas—about the meaning of the Constitution, the capacity of legal institutions to remedy different forms of injustice, and the relationship between legal reform and social change. The students’ actions initiated a national conversation over whether the Constitution’s equal protection clause extended to the activities of private businesses that served the general public. The courts, the traditional focal point for accounts of constitutional disputes, played an important but ultimately secondary role in this story. The great victory of the sit-in movement came not in the Supreme Court, but in Congress, with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, landmark legislation that recognized the right African American students had claimed for themselves four years earlier. The Sit-Ins invites a broader understanding of how Americans contest and construct the meaning of their Constitution.
Please join us on Monday, April 16 from 12:45-2:00p in the Philip Selznick Seminar Room, 2240 Piedmont Ave.
Coffee and water are provided. We invite you to bring your own “bag lunch.”
The Introduction and Chapter One of The Sit-Ins (University of Chicago Press, 2018) is available here and in hard copy at the Center.
We are looking forward to seeing you soon!
Jonathan Simon, Faculty Director
Rosann Greenspan, Executive Director
Events are wheelchair accessible. For disability-related accommodations, contact the organizer of the event. Advance notice is kindly requested.
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