The Henderson Center’s mission is to ensure that Berkeley Law students and graduates possess the skills to succeed as social justice advocates. We do this by (1) facilitating rigorous theoretical education and practical training; (2) promoting collaboration among groups dedicated to equity, and (3) raising critical questions about race, gender, legal status, poverty, bias, and other identities and systems that shape our lives.
The Center was founded by Professors Angela Harris, Herma Hill Kay, Rachel Moran, and Eleanor Swift in response to Proposition 209’s devastating effect on racial equity. Race is foundational to our story just as it is foundational to America’s story. We are always curious about whether and how race is interwoven into our laws, structures, and mores. Yet the scope of our work is broad. We are interested in how gun violence impacts women, the criminalization of poverty, the art of building social movements across affinity groups, how shareholder power and corporate responsibility intersect with social equity–we could go on. If you want to explore how power, privilege, and law impact each other in social reality, you’ll find something that interests you at the Henderson Center.
The Meaning of Social Justice
Our identity as a social justice center is significant. Social justice promotes rights and opportunity for people who are chronically deprived of political and personal agency, whether by structural or individualized sources. It explicitly aims to redress wrongs committed against the least visible and least powerful, and to reform legal, political, and social systems so that they create and support equitable opportunity. To be sure, we celebrate the significant and wonderful overlap between our mission as social justice advocates and the lawyering that, because it benefits the common good, is sometimes called public interest work. Yet our founders chose their words deliberately, and so it is worth considering the meaning of social justice.