More Praise for Penningroth

Professor Dylan Penningroth
Professor Dylan Penningroth

Professor Dylan Penningroth’s book Before the Movement: The Hidden History of Black Civil Rights has won the Law & Society Association’s J. Willard Hurst Book Prize, the latest in a string of accolades and honors. 

The book explores the larger picture of how Black people worked within the laws of property, contracts, marriage and divorce, business and religious associations, and more to assert their rights — even while other parts of the legal system offered discrimination, hostility, and violence. 

Since its publication last fall, Before the Movement has racked up a number of awards, including  the David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Legal History or Biography and two — the Merle Curti Social History Award and the Ellis W. Hawley Prize — from the Organization of American Historians. The book was also a finalist for the Lynton Prize.  

Before the Movement masterfully achieves an impossible feat: it uses a wide and unwieldy archive alongside personal reflective narrative to offer a clear and compelling argument about law’s experience in the lived world,” the Hurst Prize citation says. “This book is at the core of what groundbreaking law and society historical scholarship is — it is engaging and accessible while expanding our understandings about an important topic, and it reflects deep and pain-staking research to bring alive archives that would otherwise go unnoticed. In bringing alive the ‘legal consciousness’ of people in their everyday interactions of the law (i.e., mundane disputes and cases), Professor Penningroth offers a more nuanced and fuller dimension to the history of Black civil rights in the United States before it was categorized as one.”

Penningroth and other award winners will be honored at the association’s annual meeting. Several other winners have ties to Berkeley Law: Legal Studies student Sanjana Manjeshwar nabbed the Undergraduate Student Paper Prize, while Jurisprudence & Social Policy Program alumni Lynette Chua Ph.D. ’11, Kaaryn Gustafson J.D. ’97 Ph.D. ’04, and Marianne Constable Ph.D. ’89 won the International Prize, the Ronald Pipkin Service Award, and the Stan Wheeler Mentorship Award, respectively.