We’ve been organizing “Social Justice Thursdays” for longer than we can remember. The idea is simple: just about every Thursday during the school year, our community can count on a social justice event from the Henderson Center, no matter what else is going on. Social Justice Thursdays are a mix of tried-and-true perennial favorites (like Core in Context), new initiatives (like Classroom to Courtroom) and one-off events that track what’s in the news around the world. Some of our Social Justice Thursdays include…
Core in Context. At the beginning of each Fall, we give 1L students concrete ways to interpret their core curriculum through a social justice lens. For many students committed to working for the marginalized, the first year of law school can be disorienting and the law’s path-dependency and hierarchy can seem at odds with social justice work. This series offers a welcome touchstone for our community’s newest members and features the professors who teach the core classes each year.
Critical Foundations builds on Core in Context by introducing students to feminist legal theory, critical race theory, and the history and sociology of law–that is, essential concepts that critique the status quo. Students leave these talks with a deeper understanding of how to bring social justice insight and energy to any legal question, and with exposure to professors whose classes they may not be taking.
Classroom to Courtroom is a speaker series which invites an outside practitioner and a Berkeley Law professor to debate a local social justice issue. Most recently, Professor Bertrall Ross and East Bay Community Law Center attorney Ubaldo Fernandez (Class of 2011) spoke to a diverse group of 30 students about how gentrification impacts the Bay Area’s poor residents.
Social Justice at Berkeley Law highlights social justice scholarship happening at Berkeley Law that doesn’t make its way into the classroom. Most recently, Professor David Oppenheimer shared his research with 50+ students, describing how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., lobbied Congress for financial reparations and supported “Operation Breadbasket,” the multi-state affirmative action employment initiative for black Americans.