The Carter G. Woodson Institute, U.Va.

The Carter G. Woodson Institute

for African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia

Does Reparations Have a Future? Rethinking Racial Justice in a 'Color-Blind' Era


"By looking at the reparations campaign in the United States as a social movement, we discover that it was never entirely, or even primarily, about money. The demand for reparations was about social justice, reconciliation, reconstructing the internal life of black America, and eliminating institutional racism."

                                                                                  -- Robin D. G. Kelley, Freedom Dreams                                       


We at the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies are excited to host “Does Reparations Have a Future? Rethinking Racial Justice in a ‘Color-Blind’ Era,” a multi-disciplinary symposium.  Organized by Deborah McDowell (Alice Griffin Professor of English and Director of the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies), Kim Forde-Mazrui (William S. Potter Professor of Law), and Lawrie Balfour (Professor of Politics), the symposium is organized around four sessions—“Reparations in Historical Frame,” “Reparations and the University,” “Reparations and the Nation,” “Reparations around the Globe.”  Panelists will examine the range of meanings, questions, controversies, and aspirations the term “reparations” has elicited historically and will explore among other topics, the cultural, legal, economic, and political legacies of slavery and Jim Crow. 

A controversial term provoking a range of meanings and responses, “reparations” has been used most commonly to refer to material compensation in the present as a means of righting the wrongs of the past.  In the political arena, the connection between the crimes of the past and the health of the polity has been acknowledged in the recent spate of public apologies, particularly for slavery and Jim Crow. Beginning with the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2007, several states and then the U.S. Congress expressed regret for slavery and segregation and vowed that the lesson of this past history would not be lost. In its 2009 apology, the U.S. Senate observed that "African-Americans continue to suffer from the consequences of slavery and Jim Crow laws—long after both systems were formally abolished—through enormous damage and loss, both tangible and intangible, including the loss of human dignity and liberty." For many, including the distinguished historian, John Hope Franklin, such apologies cost nothing and carry limited utility as concerns the work of righting wrongs. The next step, he asserted, was “to do something."

Are reparations, then, the next step; and if so, in what would reparations consist?  How do we address the particulars of compensation or define “collective responsibility?” Who owes what to whom?  Who is entitled?  Must making reparations be seen as synonymous with material redress?  If so, what are the potential costs? What are the ethical costs of not taking action or of assuming responsibility for repairing the persistent legacies of slavery and segregation?


These and other questions have been central to the reparations debate. This debate --raging furiously at times--poses a peculiar set of challenges for those concerned with the possibility of multiracial democracy. On the one hand, evidence of the obstinacy of racial inequality abounds. African American children can expect to live shorter lives than their white counterparts; are three times as likely to live in poverty; and most of them will attend highly segregated schools.  Furthermore, when they grow into adulthood, their odds of incarceration, disenfranchisement, and unemployment will far outstrip those of white citizens. That these discrepancies can be traced to historic injustices and their legacies has been documented by scholars in the humanities, social sciences, and law. And yet, as public apologies for these injustices proliferate, so do variations on the idea that we inhabit a "color-blind" or "post-racial" era. Since the passage of the landmark civil rights legislation of the 1960s and, most emphatically, since the election of Barack Obama to the presidency, many Americans have been unwilling to reckon with the unfinished work of undoing the effects of centuries of bondage and state-sanctioned racial hierarchy. Indeed, public opinion research indicates that most white Americans believe that racial equality has already been achieved, or will be in the not too distant future.  Accordingly, neither legislatures nor courts are willing to prioritize or to extend earlier civil rights gains, this despite the fact that recent years have witnessed the unraveling of desegregation efforts on multiple fronts, particularly in realm of public education.

In such a context, even racial egalitarians worry that advocating any form of official redress for slavery and Jim Crow will exacerbate the resentment of citizens who are affronted by the implication that they are culpable for injuries inflicted before they were born.  Such claims for reparations, they argue, could further serve to stimulate animus against African Americans and to distract citizens from confronting the magnitude of present-day injustices.  Ultimately, even among the most progressive-minded, there is a growing sentiment that, in view of the gravity of contemporary social ills, which tend to fall disproportionately on citizens of African descent, it seems impractical, if not wholly irresponsible, to focus on the ghosts of bygone crimes.

In convening this symposium on reparations, the organizers seek not to swell on the ghosts of the past, but to provide an opportunity for the University of Virginia to join other universities, including Brown and Emory, in addressing these challenges and engaging in cutting-edged, scholarly considerations of the presence of the past. Panelists will present papers from a variety of competing perspectives, both sympathetic to and critical of the reparations movement, while exploring the noticeable growth of reparations efforts domestically and around the world.  It seems a propitious moment to ask how these efforts world-wide might inform debates about transitional justice in the U.S.

Our Thursday night keynote speaker is one of the foremost scholars of the politics of reparations: Michael Dawson, John D. MacArthur Professor of Political Science and the College at the University of Chicago and the founding and current Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture.  The remaining participants are experts in the following fields:  Law, History, Political Science, African-American Studies, Economics and Philosophy.

Lawrie Balfour, Professor of Politics, University of Virginia

Martha Biondi, Associate Professor of African American Studies and History, Northwestern University

Alfred Brophy, Judge John J. Parker Distinguished Professor of Law, University of North Carolina

Lisa Crooms, Professor of Law, Howard University

William Darity and Kirsten Mullen, Arts & Sciences Professor of Public Policy, Professor of African and African American Studies and Economics, Duke University

Adrienne Davis, Vice Provost, William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law, Washington University

Darren Hutchinson, Professor of Law, American University

H. Timothy Lovelace, Jr., Associate Professor of Law, Indiana University

Pap NDiaye, Maître de Conférences d'Histoire, L'École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS)

Melissa Nobles, Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science, MIT

Margaret Urban Walker, Donald J. Schuenke Chair of Philosophy, Marquette University

Verna Williams, Professor of Law, University of Cincinnati 

The organizers acknowledge that reparations in any form are a limited and imperfect response to historic injustice. Yet we resist the conclusion that they ought to be discarded without serious consideration. What reparations may offer, uniquely, is a language and a framework in which contemporary priorities are understood against a history of systemic disregard for some citizens and impunity for others. In this regard, we echo philosopher Margaret Urban Walker: "As I continue to think about reparations, I have come to accept how little, in a sense, reparations ever do or could do. This does not make them less important."


                                                                                                       The Program Committee: 

                                                                                                       Deborah E. McDowell, Chair 
                                                                                                       Lawrie Balfour
                                                                                                       Kim Ford-Mazrui


Day 1: Thursday, March 21, 2013


Time Event
5:30 p.m.


Location: UVA School of Law, Student Lounge #1

7:00 p.m.

Keynote Address: Michael Dawson, John D. MacArthur Professor of Political Science and the College at the University of Chicago.


Introduction: Alex M. Johnson, Jr. Perre Bowen Professor of Law and the director of the Center for the Study of Race and Law at the University of Virginia.

Location: UVA School of Law, Withers Brown Hall, WB102

Day 2: Friday, March 22, 2013

All Sessions in the Minor Hall Auditorium (Room 125) -- 8:30 a.m. -- 6:00 p.m.

Time Event

8:00 a.m.

8:30 a.m.

Coffee and Continental Breakfast in the Minor Hall Lobby

Opening Remarks, Deborah E. McDowell Director, Carter G. Woodson Institute, Alice Griffin Professor of English

9:00-10:30 a.m.

Panel One: Reparations in Historical Frame


Martha Biondi, Associate Professor of African American Studies and History, Northwestern University 

Lawrie Balfour, Professor of Politics, University of Virginia

Darren Hutchinson, Professor of Law, American University

Moderator: Cecilia Márquez, Ph. D. candidate (History), University of Virginia

11:00-12:30 p.m.

Panel Two: Reparations and the University


Alfred Brophy, Judge John J. Parker Distinguished Professor of Law, University of North Carolina

H. Timothy Lovelace, Jr., Associate Professor of Law, Indiana University

Verna Williams, Professor of Law, University of Cincinnati 

Moderator: Daisy Lovelace, Associate Director, Center for P-16 Research and Collaboration, Indiana University

12:30-2:00 p.m. Lunch
2:30-4:00 p.m.

Panel Three: Reparations and the Nation


William Darity, Arts and Sciences Professor of Public Policy, Professor of African and African American Studies and Economics, Duke University and Kirsten Mullen, President of the North Carolina Folklife Institute 

Adrienne Davis, Vice Provost, William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law, Washington University 

Melissa Nobles, Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science, MIT

Moderator: Derrick Alridge, Professor of Education, University of Virginia

4:30-6:00 p.m.

Panel Four: Reparations around the Globe


Lisa Crooms, Professor of Law, Howard University 

Pap NDiaye, Maître de Conférences d'Histoire, L'École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) 

Margaret Urban Walker, Donald J. Schuenke Chair of Philosophy, Marquette University

Moderator: Barbara Boswell, ACLS Faculty Fellow, Woodson Institute, University of Virginia


Closing Remarks, Kim Forde-Mazrui, William S. Potter Professor of Law at the University of Virginia


Derrick Alridge (Moderator)

Professor of Social Foundations of Education in the Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Derrick Alridge is Co-Director of the Foot Soldier Project for Civil Rights Studies (an oral history and documentary film project). His research interests include African American educational and intellectual history and the civil rights movement. His publications include The Educational Thought of W.E.B. Du Bois: An Intellectual HistoryMessage in the Music: Hip Hop, History, and Pedagogy (co-edited with James B. Stewart and V.P. Franklin), and numerous articles in the fields of education, history, and African American Studies. An associate editor of the Journal of African American History, Alridge is also a Distinguished Lecturer for the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.


Lawrie Balfour

Professor of Politics, University of Virginia

Lawrie Balfour is Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia and Director of Fellowships at the Carter G. Woodson Institute. Author of Democracy’s Reconstruction: Thinking Politically with W. E. B. Du Bois (Oxford University Press) and The Evidence of Things Not Said: James Baldwin and the Promise of American Democracy (Cornell University Press), she is currently writing a book on reparations for slavery and Jim Crow. Her articles on race and democratic theory have appeared inPolitical Theory, American Political Science Review, Hypatia, Du Bois Review, and elsewhere. Balfour has held fellowships from the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African American Research, the Center for the Study of Values in Public Life at Harvard Divinity School, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Humanities and taught as a visiting professor at Princeton University and the École des hautes études en sciences sociales.

Title: "'Color Line Justice' Ida B. Wells and the Feminist Case for Reparations"

Abstract: To speak of reparations is to make creative connections between democratic aspirations, on the one hand, and a history of racialized forms of power and powerlessness, on the other. As many commentators have noted, however, questions of gender have too often been suppressed or neglected in the theory and practice of reparations politics. If looking forward depends on the refutation of distorted views of the past, then reparations arguments need to contend more fully with the historical entanglements of gender, sexuality, and class in the development of the polity. This paper argues that Ida B. Wells' analysis of the epidemic of antiblack violence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries offers a powerful model for the construction of reparations arguments in the “post-racial” age. To that end, I highlight three dimensions of Wells' work: 1) her commitment to a form of truth-telling (which is a centerpiece of reparations efforts around the world) that criticizes received understandings of history and revises them in the service of more egalitarian ways of life; 2) her gender-conscious assessment of the political and economic causes and effects of antiblack violence; and 3) her differentiated call for responsible action by all citizens as essential to the transition from lawlessness and tyranny to meaningful self-government. Studying Wells’ work, I contend, reinvigorates the idea of reparations as a feminist project.

Martha Biondi

Associate Professor of African American Studies and History, Northwestern University

Martha Biondi is Associate Professor of African American Studies and History at Northwestern University.  The author most recently of The Black Revolution on Campus, published by the University of California Press, she has written on the African American reparations struggle for Radical History Review. Her first book, To Stand and Fight: the Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City, was awarded the Thomas J. Wilson Prize by Harvard University Press as best first book of the year. A recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, Biondi is currently researching a project entitled, Violence, Neoliberalism and Black Life.

Title: “Black Studies, The Black University and Reparations”


Abstract: This paper broadly explores the relationship between the Black student/Black studies movements of the late 1960s/early 1970s and the development of reparations advocacy. The Black Manifesto of 1969 demanded reparations payments to help create a Black University. I explore the legacy of the push for a Black University, and argue that it was more successful than has been acknowledged. I ask, in addition, to what extent was the insistence on the need for a “Black perspective” in scholarly production and pedagogy also a demand for reparation?



Alfred L. Brophy

Judge John J. Parker Distinguished Professor of Law, University of North Carolina

Alfred L. Brophy is the Judge John J. Parker Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill.  His books include Reconstructing the Dreamland: The Tulsa Riot of 1921 (Oxford, 2002),  Reparations Pro and Con(Oxford 2006), and the co-authored Integrating Spaces: Property Law and Race(Aspen 2011).  His expansive study of proslavery thought in the southern academy and judiciary, University, Court, and Slave, will appear from Oxford in 2014

Title: "The Law and Future of Reparations"

Abstract: Discussion of reparations has declined significantly since its height around 2004. Perhaps this is partly because a few of the goals of the reparations movement have been achieved and partly because reparations claims face skepticism among voters and politicians. Moreover, the parts of the movement that are acceptable to voters -- such as apologies and increased social welfare spending -- seem to have migrated from the realm of hope into mainstream politics.  Examples of what was once considered “reparations” – apologies for the eras of slavery and Jim Crow– are sufficiently mainstream and thus may no longer qualify as reparations.  While some aspects of the reparations movement have been de-radicalized, others remain fiercely controversial.

"The Law and Future of Reparations" addresses both the de-radicalized parts of reparations (what one might call the “realistic reparations”) and those more radical parts that remain in the distance.  It surveys recent reparative actions and the statute and case law of reparations, in an effort to point out how courts have reacted to ancient claims for reparations and how legislatures have acted in response to reparations claims. Moving from that baseline of what the law is to what the law might be, the presentation focuses on legislative reparations and a renewed Great Society, outlining in the process the ways that some reparations claims might be made not only in the courts, but also in the court of public opinion.

Barbara Boswell (Moderator)

ACLS New Faculty Fellow at the Carter G. Woodson Institute at University of Virginia

Barbara Boswell specializes in Black South African women’s writing and nationalism, African women’s writing, feminist and womanist theory, and diasporic representations of Blackness. Her book manuscript in progress, Black South African Women Writers: Narrating the Self, Narrating the Nation, examines how Black women writers engage the concept of the nation in their fiction in apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. Boswell holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Women’s Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park, as well as an M.Phil. in Gender and Women’s Studies from the University of the Western Cape, South Africa.

Lisa Crooms-Robinson

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Director of the Constitutional Law Center at Howard University School of Law. 

Lisa Crooms-Robinson holds a B.A. in Economics from Howard University and a J.D. from the University of Michigan.  She is a Fulbright Scholar, having spent time at the Norman Manley Law School at the University of the West Indies where she researched the relationship between gender, violence and law in the construction of Jamaican post-independence national identity.  Her previous articles in the area of reparations include Remembering the Days of Slavery: Plantations, Contracts and Reparations [26 Hawaii L. Rev. 405 (2003-04)]. Her most recent book, co-edited with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and others, is The Oxford Handbook of African American Citizenship, 1865-present (2012).

Title: "Re-Membering the Dismembered: Renaissance, Reparations and Pan-Africanism"

Abstract: Pan-Africanism operates as a widely accepted framework in which claims for reparations for the injuries wrought by slavery and the slave trade that were suffered by African peoples, both on the continent and throughout the Diaspora, have been formulated and advanced.  Its usefulness, however, is limited by the fact that the injuries caused by slavery and the slave trade are geographically specific and particular.  That is, continental and diasporic Africans suffered different injuries, and these injuries were largely a function of where the Africans were located.  This reality, however, works against Pan-Africanism, the strength of which relies on a constructed African identity based on a notion of shared African-ness on the continent and throughout the Diaspora.  Simply put, Pan-Africanism has to minimize differences between Africans on the continent and throughout the Diaspora to maintain its usefulness beyond a rhetorical device.  Unbound from notions of an ethereal, almost unobtainable, African-ness, contemporary reparations discourse would benefit from an analysis that not only rejects attempts to equate slavery and the slave trade, on the one hand, with colonialism and neo-colonialism on the other hand, but also to ignore the different roles and interests of the African stakeholders involved in slavery and the slave trade.

















William Darity

Arts & Sciences Professor of Public Policy, Professor of African and African American Studies and Economics, Duke University

William A. “Sandy” Darity Jr. is Arts & Sciences Professor of Public Policy Studies and Economics, Chair of African and African American Studies and director of the Research Network on Racial and Ethnic Inequality at Duke University. He earned the Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1978. 

Previously he served as director of the Institute of African American Research, director of the Moore Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program, director of the Undergraduate Honors Program in economics, and director of Graduate Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Darity’s research focuses on stratification economics, inequality by race, class and ethnicity, schooling and the racial achievement gap, North-South theories of trade and development, skin shade and labor market outcomes, the economics of reparations, the Atlantic slave trade and the Industrial Revolution, doctrinal history and the social psychological effects of unemployment exposure.

Darity was the 2012 a recipient of the Samuel Z. Westerfield Award, the highest honor bestowed by the National Economic Association. He has also been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford (2011-2012), a fellow at the National Humanities Center (1989-90) and a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors (1984). He is a past president of the National Economic Association and the Southern Economic Association.  Darity has also taught at Grinnell College, the University of Maryland at College Park, the University of Texas at Austin, Simmons College and Claremont-McKenna College. He was Editor in Chief of the most recent edition of the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (Macmillan Reference, 2008). Darity has published or edited 10 books and more than 220 articles in professional journals.

Title: "'It's Not Just About Slavery': A Counter-Brief to the Case Against Black Reparations."

Abstract: We assemble a comprehensive compendium of the basic arguments that have been made against reparations for black Americans and respond to them systematically. The basic arguments customarily have been predicated on the view that the injustice motivating reparations is slavery alone, while we will argue that the case is also predicated on the injustices of Jim Crow and ongoing racism in the United States.




Adrienne Davis

Vice Provost, William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law, Washington University

Adrienne Davis is renowned for her scholarship and teaching on gender and race relations; theories of justice and reparations; feminist and critical race theory; and law and popular culture.  She has written extensively on the gendered and private law dimensions of American slavery, the legal regulation of intimacy, and how culture and law converge to distribute justice.  Most recently, she has published an article comparing artist Kara Walker to scholarly feminist theory, a film review on masculinity and interracial intimacy in popular film, an article on polygamy and also edited a journal symposium entitled, “Mass Incarceration and Masculinity Through a Black Feminist Lens.”  She is currently working on a project on black polygamy.  A Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, Professor Davis directs the Black Sexual Economies Project at the law school’s Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Work and Social Capital.  She also founded and is co-director of the Law, Identity & Culture Initiative.  Professor Davis is the past recipient of a Bellagio Fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation and two research grants from the Ford Foundation on such topics as black women and labor, and women, slavery, sexuality, and religion.

Title: "The Jurisprudence & Justice of Black Reparations: Caste, Slavery, and Transitional Justice"

Abstract: For all the debate over black reparations, there remain gaps in our collective ability, as a nation, to articulate the legal and moral outrageousness of slavery in the U.S., and to connect it to reparative discourse.  This presentation seeks to offer frameworks for comprehending and articulating slavery’s injury, as well as its on-going aftereffects.  Such a “thick” description is essential, I argue, in assessing the compatibility of reparations with various forms of justice.  The presentation identifies ways that private law—prototypical corrective justice—is inadequate, in both substance and remedy, to the goals of reparations.  At the same time, it does not find corrective justice and (black) reparative discourses to be completely incompatible.  Indeed, I suggest that conceiving reparations through the corrective justice lens offers significant conceptual benefits, to both private law and reparative discourse.  While pursuing this argument, the presentation also confronts a question plaguing reparations debates: does reparations constitute a species of distributive justicemasquerading as corrective justice?  Using the frameworks, summarized as caste, to intervene in this debate, I conclude that black reparations claims are not juridically compatible with either corrective justice, or its conventional alternative, distributive justice.  Instead the reparations question is best conceived through a third lens, transitional justice, which emerges from the human rights context.  Black reparations in the U.S. should be characterized as “unfinished” transitional justice.  To test the viability of black reparations as transitional justice, the presentation considers German reparations paid to Israel as a final provocative case study.

















Michael C. Dawson

John D. MacArthur Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and the College at the University of Chicago.


Michael C. Dawson is the John D. MacArthur Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and the College at the University of Chicago.  He has also taught at the University of Michigan and Harvard University.  Dawson, who received his Ph.D from Harvard University in 1986, was co-principal investigator of the 1988 National Black Election Study and principal investigator with Ronald Brown of the 1993-1994 National Black Politics Study.  He directed numerous additional public opinion studies between 2000 and 2010.  His research interests have included the development of quantitative models of African American political behavior, identity, and public opinion, the political effects of urban poverty, and African-American political ideology.  This work also includes delineating the differences in African American public opinion from those of other racial and ethnic groups.  More recently he has combined his quantitative work with work in political theory.  His first two books, Behind the Mule:  Race and Class in African-American Politics (Princeton 1994) and Black Visions: The Roots of Contemporary African-American Political Ideologies(Chicago 2001), won multiple awards including the prestigious Ralph Bunche Award from the American Political Science Association.  Recent books include Not In Our Lifetimes: The Future of Black Politics (University of Chicago Press, 2011) and Blacks In and Out of the Left (Harvard University Press, 2013).  Dawson has also published numerous journal articles, book chapters and opinion pieces. He is with Lawrence Bobo, the founding co-editor of the journal The Du Bois Review (Cambridge University Press), as well as founding and current director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago.  Dawson was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2006.  Dawson has been interviewed extensively by the print and broadcast media including the Washington Post, The Economist Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, NPR, BBC, CNN, BET, and ABC News.

Title: "Theory and Practice: Politics and Reparations in the Early 21st Century"

Abstract: Diverse scholars with deep commitments to ending racial inequality such as Glenn Loury, Wendy Brown and Adolph Reed, Jr., all oppose the demand of reparations for slavery and Jim Crow.  Their opposition is based on philosophical and/or political grounds.  In this talk I will argue for a reconsideration of the politics of reparations.  I will argue that there are strong moral, philosophical, and political grounds for doing so.  I take as my starting point that the goal of such a campaign would be to enhance human flourishing, facilitate the dismantling of systems of domination, and “the achievement of meaningful equality and justice in the future” (Benson 2007).  Analyses of public opinion data on support for reparations will demonstrate the monumental obstacles such a campaign would face.  Yet, I will conclude that minimally, the revitalization of a robust black politics within the U.S. demands that a political debate about the desirability of a campaign for reparations be undertaken now.



Kim Forde-Mazrui

William S. Potter Professor of Law at the University of Virginia

Kim Ford-Mazrui teaches Constitutional Law, Employment Discrimination, and Race and Law.  He earned his B.A. in Philosophy, summa cum laude, from the University of Michigan in 1990, and his Juris Doctorate, magna cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School in 1993.  His scholarship often focuses on race and equal protection law, including Taking Conservatives Seriously: A Moral Justification for Affirmative Action and Reparations, 92 California Law Review 683 (2004) and The Constitutional Implications of Race-Neutral Affirmative Action, 88 Georgetown Law Journal 2331 (2000).  He served from 2003 to 2010 as the inaugural Director of UVA’s Center for the Study of Race and Law.  The Black Law Students Association twice awarded him the Service to BLSA Award; UVA’s Office of Equal Opportunity Programs named him an “EOP Champion” in 2009; and UVA recently selected him as the 2013 John T. Casteen III Diversity-Equity-Inclusion Leadership Award winner.


Darren Hutchinson

Professor of Law, American University

Darren Hutchinson teaches Constitutional Law, Equitable Remedies and seminars in Critical Race Theory, Law and Social Change, and Equal Protection Theory at the American University, Washington College of Law.  He received a B.A., cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. from Yale Law School.

Prior to his career in law teaching, Professor Hutchinson practiced commercial litigation at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen and Hamilton in New York City and clerked for the late Honorable Mary Johnson Lowe, a former United States District Judge in the Southern District of New York. 

Hutchinson has written extensively on issues related to Constitutional Law, Critical Race Theory, Law and Sexuality, and social identity theory. His numerous publications have appeared in several journals including the Cornell Law Review, the Washington University Law Review, the UCLA Law Review, the Illinois Law Review, the Tulane Law Review, the Michigan Journal of Race and Law, the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, and the Journal of Law and Inequality.

Professor Hutchinson, who has served as Visiting Scholar at Yale Law School and Visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, has lectured widely at numerous universities, including Yale, Stanford, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Virginia, Cornell, Georgetown, and Boston University. He authors Dissenting Justice — a blog related to law and politics.

Title: "Racial Exhaustion"

Abstract: Contemporary opponents of race-based remedies, including reparations, rely upon rhetorical and cultural claims that contest the existence of racism and seek to blame persons of color for their own marginalization. These arguments appeared early in US history, around the end of the Civil War. Opponents of social policies designed to ameliorate post-bellum racial inequality asserted that because the country had made blacks “free,” created peace between blacks and their former owners, extending further assistance would cause dependency and treat blacks as “special favorites under the law.” This paper places current opposition to race-based remedies within this historical context and considers various strategies social movements and scholars could utilize to undermine the potency of racial exhaustion rhetoric.

Alex M. Johnson, Jr.

Perre Bowen Professor of Law and the Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Law at the University of Virginia.

Alex M. Johnson, Jr. returned to UVA after serving as dean and William S. Pattee Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School from 2002-07.

Before joining the Minnesota faculty, he served seven years as the Vice Provost for FacultyRrecruitment and Retention at UVA and was Mary and Daniel Loughran Professor of Law. Johnson's teaching areas include property, modern real estate transactions, trusts and estates, and critical race theory. His current research interests include examining the social construction of race and ethnicity and its impact on law and legal issues, and the application of relational contract theories to interests in real property. Johnson has been a visiting professor at Stanford University, the University of Texas and Washington University law schools. He has served as chair of the Board of Trustees of the Law School Admissions Council, the nonprofit corporation owned by ABA-approved law schools that produces and administers the LSAT, as well as the LSAC's Test, Development and Research, and Minority Affairs standing committees. Johnson has chaired several standing committees of the Association of American Law Schools, including Curriculum and New Scholarly Papers, and served on several AALS committees, including the Committee on Second Generation Diversity Issues.

Daisy Lovelace (Moderator)

Asociate Director, Center for P-16 Research and Collaboration, Indiana University

Daisy Lovelace is the Associate Director for the Center for P-16 Research and Collaboration (P-16 Center) in the School of Education at Indiana University-Bloomington.  The P-16 Center partners with public schools statewide to improve student achievement, teacher quality, and administrator effectiveness.   Lovelace's scholarly interests include access to higher education, sociology of education, educational policy, and international/comparative studies.  Her current research examines the social and economic impacts of online degree programs on underrepresented minorities and first-generation college students.   Lovelace completed her undergraduate studies at the McIntire School of Commerce and doctorate at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia.

H. Timothy Lovelace

Associate Professor of Law, Indiana University

Tim Lovelace is an Associate Professor at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law. His current book project, titled The World is on Our Side: The Black Freedom Movement and U.S. Origins of the U.N. Race Convention, examines how civil rights activists in the U.S. South helped to inform the development of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.


Lovelace earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Virginia School of Law in 2006. During law school, he was an Oliver Hill Scholar, Black Law Students Association President, and the Thomas Marshall Miller Prize recipient. Lovelace also received his Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Virginia Corcoran Department of History in 2012. As a doctoral student, Lovelace was a referee for the Virginia Social Science Journal, a Virginia Foundation for Humanities Fellow, and the inaugural Armstead L. Robinson Fellow of the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies.


Before joining the Indiana University faculty, Lovelace served as the Assistant Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Law at the University of Virginia School of Law. 


Title: "Reparations and Legal Education:  The Making of Black Lawyers during the Black Power Era"

Abstract: Legal scholarship on reparations has been fairly predictable, much of it focusing on developing novel theories for reparations litigation, examining the significant challenges for advocates pursuing reparations through legislatures, and making the moral case for reparations.  This article deviates from the dominant approaches to the legal scholarship on reparations.  I revisit to the black power era, exploring the textured debates about reparations and the future of legal education.  By the late 1960s, black law students across the country, particularly those affiliated with the newly formed, Black American Law Student Association, hosted spirited panel discussions on topics, such as whether affirmative action should be part of a reparations agenda.  Black power activists asserted that law schools should play an active role in the reparations movement by ensuring access to civil justice and training lawyers who were “sensitive to community needs.”  And in 1969, after James Forman ascended the pulpit at Riverside Church to demand, among other things, the establishment of a black university in the South, groups of black lawyers, invoking the spirit of the “Black Manifesto,” convened to discuss the maldistribution of legal resources along race, class, and geographic lines, the lack of professional opportunities for southern black lawyers, and the future of historically black law schools born before the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Sweatt v. Painter.  In this article, I conclude by arguing that although some in the legal academy are reluctant to discuss the relationship between the reparations movement and changes in legal education, we might better understand many contemporary debates in the legal academy by placing them in conversation with the struggle for black power on college campuses.

Cecilia Márquez (Moderator)

Doctoral student in the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia

Cecilia Márquez is a 2011 graduate of Swarthmore College, where she majored in Black Studies and minored in Gender and Sexuality Studies and was named a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow.  Márquez specializes in African American and Latino History as well as Gender History. Her most recent project examined the role of Latinos in the Civil Rights Movement organization, SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee).  In 2012 Márquez was named a fellow in the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities' South Atlantic Studies Fellowship in the Public Humanities where she began her work in the Digital Humanities. She was recently named a Praxis Fellow in the Digital Humanities at the University of Virginia Scholars Lab.  Contact information and more about her research can be found on her website:

Deborah E. McDowell

Alice Griffin Professor of English and Director of the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies, University of Virginia

Deborah E. McDowell is Director of the Carter G. Woodson Institute and Alice Griffin Professor of English. She is the founding editor of the Beacon Black Women Writers Series, co-editor with Arnold Rampersad of Slavery and the Literary Imagination, and period editor of the Norton Anthology of African-American Literature. She is also the author of "The Changing Same": Studies in Fiction by Black American Women (Indiana University Press), Leaving Pipe Shop: Memories of Kin(Charles Scribner's and W. W. Norton) and the editor of various scholarly editions - including Nella Larsen's Quicksand and Passing and Frederick Douglass's 1845 Narrative of the Life. She has published numerous essays and review essays on African American literature, culture, photography and film.  She is co-editor with Claudrena Harold and Juan Battle of The Punitive Turn: New Essays on Race and Incarceration, forthcoming from the University Press of Virginia.

Kirsten Mullen

President of North Carolina Folklife Institute

Kirsten Mullen, folklorist and arts consultant, is the founder of Carolina Circuit Writers, a statewide literary consortium that brings writers of color to North Carolina for short-term residencies. Artists serve as catalysts for local communities grappling with issues of concern and collaborate with them on the creation of literary texts and performances. The former literature director of the North Carolina Arts Council, Mullen was a member of the Freelon Adjaye Bond/Smith Group that won the commission to design the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture, to be built on the National Mall in Washington, DC. A member of the Texas Folklife Resources board of directors for ten years, she is president of the North Carolina Folklife Institute and the director of The Conservation Fund/Resourceful Communities Program’s Tyrrell County (North Carolina) Folklife Project, which documents African American, Latina/o, and maritime cultures.

Her essays have appeared in museum catalogs and a wide range of historical publications including the North Carolina Historical Review, Tar Heel Junior Historian, Historic Preservation Magazine, American Legacy, and Topic, a State Department publication; and in popular media including (with co-author William Darity, Jr.), Herald-Sun, USA Today, USA Weekend, Campus Voice Magazine, Tables, The Leader, BrightleafAmericanaTexas Monthly, Texas Observer, Texas Architect, Muse Air Monthly, Black Enterprise, and Independent Weekly.

Pap NDiaye

Maître de Conférences d'Histoire, L'École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS)


Pap Ndiaye is a historian of the United States and France. Just elected Professor of history at the Institut d'Etudes politiques in Paris, France (Sciences Po), he has recently published La Condition Noire. Essai sur une Minorité Française (2008), the first academic study on French Blacks.  He will publish a history of Chicago in September of 2013, and is currently working on a global history of the Civil Rights Movement.

Title: "The French Debate on Reparations for Slavery. A Pragmatic Approach."

Abstract: Public debates around slavery as a historical issue and a object of collective memory have been very visible since the late 1990s in France.

They have revolved around many issues such as the role played by slavery in the French economic take-off, the everyday life of slaves in French colonies as compared to other colonial/imperial situations, the Number Game (the Atlantic slave trade vs. Oriental slave trade and domestic forms of slavery in Africa), and two closely intertwined questions which my presentation will delve into.

First, the relations between past situations of domination (slavery and other forms of colonial oppression) and current situations of domination (racial discriminations in French society). Second, the issue of reparation for slavery, which was triggered, among other factors, by the Taubira Act voted by the French Parliament in 2001 declaring that slavery was a crime against humanity and urging French and European authorities to promote the study of slavery and commemorate its memory.

My presentation will describe and analyze the current debate on reparations for slavery in France, and will suggest a pragmatic approach to reparations, which could find a reasonably broad political support.

Melissa Nobles

Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science, MIT

Melissa Nobles received her MA and PhD in Political Science from Yale University and a BA from Brown in History. Her teaching and research interests are in the comparative study of racial and ethnic politics, and issues of retrospective justice. She is the author of two books, Shades of Citizenship: Race and the Census in Modern Politics (Stanford University Press, 2000), The Politics of Official Apologies, (Cambridge University Press, 2008), and co-editor with Jun-Hyeok Kwak of Inherited Responsibility and Historical Reconciliation (Routledge Press, 2013). Her work has also appeared in the Annual Review of Political Science, Daedalus, Political Power and Social Theory, and in several edited collections.  She is currently working on her third book manuscript,  examining the scope and nature of violence in subnational authoritarian regimes, focusing on the U.S. South.

Title: "A Comparative Examination of Apology and Reparations in the 21st Century"

Abstract: Around the world, apologies and reparations have been given or demanded in a range of circumstances, including resolution of W.W.II crimes, democratization after authoritarian rule, and most recently, historical injustices.  While the circumstances vary, arguments in favor or opposition are similar, centering around three core concerns: Moral propriety, efficacy, and costs. In this paper, I will provide a brief discussion of these concerns. I will then discuss the public debates and political efforts to secure an apology and reparations for American slavery and “Jim Crow” segregation an assesses and explains the outcomes, paying particular attention to whether they confirm the expectations of advocates and opponents. Finally, the presentation concludes with a discussion of whether the re-election of Barack Obama has rendered moot the apology and reparations debate in the United States.

Margaret Urban Walker

Donald J. Schuenke Chair of Philosphy, Marquette University

Margaret Urban Walker is the Donald J. Schuenke Chair in Philosophy at Marquette University. She is author of Moral Repair: Reconstructing Moral Relations After Wrongdoing and What is Reparative Justice?, as well as many articles on reparations and the moral and political values of truth telling in the aftermath of conflict, repression, and historical injustice. Walker has contributed to research projects with the International Center for Transitional Justice on gendered violence and reparations and on truth commissions. She is currently working on a book on reparations and reparative justice, including reparative truth telling and memory work.

Title: "The New Practice of Reparations: Political, Legal, and Moral Dimensions and Tensions"

Abstract: There is a new internationally normed practice of reparations that owes much to acquired political experience, moral ideas, and the needs and demands of victims of violence and injustice, as well as to legal paradigms. I discuss the contours of the practice as embodied in the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2006. This multidimensional understanding of reparations pulls against seeing reparations as simply restitution or compensation. It invites further thought about the political character and moral logic of reparations as a process, rather than a payment.  Concerns with accountability and reciprocity illuminate some of the tensions surrounding reparations attempts and struggles.

Verna Williams

Professor of Law, University of Cincinnati

Verna L. Williams is a professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.  Her courses include Constitutional Law, Gender and the Law, and Family Law.  A founder and co-director of the College’s Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice, Professor Williams’s research examines the intersection of race, gender, and class in education law and policy. Prior to joining the faculty in 2001, Professor Williams was Vice President and Director of Educational Opportunities at the National Women’s Law Center, where she focused on issues of gender equity in education.  During her time at the Center, Professor Williams was lead counsel and successfully argued before the United States Supreme Court Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, which established that educational institutions have a duty to address complaints of student-to-student sexual harassment.  Professor Williams also practiced at the Department of Justice and with the firm of Sidley Austin LLP.  She is a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School and Georgetown University.

Title: "Reading, Writing and Reparations:  Systemic Reform of Public Education as a Matter of Justice"

Abstract: This presentation examines reparations through the lens of Virginia’s Brown v. Board of Education Scholarship Program and Fund (“Brown Fund Act”).   This provision seeks to remedy the state’s refusal to integrate schools after the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Specifically, during the period known as “massive resistance,” the state’s executive and legislative branches colluded to develop laws defying Brown’s mandate.  One locality, Prince Edward County, went so far as to keep its schools closed for five years, denying the Black children residing there an education, but providing state-funded scholarships for white youngsters. The Brown Fund Act provides scholarships to remedy those “directly” affected by the state’s reprehensible action. The paper examines and assesses the Brown Fund Act and posits, based on Virginia’s experiences, substantive education reform as a promising site for reparations in the commonwealth and elsewhere.


Recommended Reading

Balfour, Lawrie (University of Virginia)

"Democracy's Reconstruction: Thinking Politically with W.E.B. Du Bois (Transgressing boundaries: Studies in Black Politics and Black Communities)" (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).

Act and Fact: Slavery Reparations as a Democratic Politics of Reconciliation,” in The Politics of Reconciliation in Multicultural Societies, ed. Will Kymlicka and Bashir Bashir (Oxford University Press, 2008), 94-113.

Reparations after Identity Politics,” Political Theory 33 (December 2005): 786-811. 



Darity, William (Duke University)

"Forty Acres and a Mule in the 21st Century" Social Science Quarterly   89:3  September 2008 pp.656-664


Dawson, Michael (University of Chicago)

"Blacks In and Out of the Left."  Cambridge:  Harvard University Press. 2013

"Not in Our Lifetimes:  The Future of Black Politics."  Chicago:  The University of Chicago Press. 2011

Dawson, Michael C., and Rovana Popoff.  “Reparations:  Justice and Greed in Black and White.”  The Du Bois Review.1:47-92. 2004.

"Black Visions:  The Roots of Contemporary African-American Political Ideologies."  Chicago:  The University of Chicago Press. 2001


Hutchinson, Darren (American University)

"Racial Exhaustion," 86 Washington University Law Review 917 (2009)
"Reparations: A Remedies Law Perspective," 56 American University Law Review 1402 (2007)
"'Unexplainable on Grounds Other Than Race': The Inversion of Privilege and Subordination in Equal Protection Jurisprudence," 2003 University of Illinois Law Review 615 (2003) 
"Social Movements and Judging: An Essay on Institutional Reform Litigation and Desegregation in Dallas, Texas," 62 Southern Methodist University Law Review  1635 (2009) (no free access link available).


NDiaye, Pap (L'École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales) (EHESS)

"La Condition noire" Essai sur une minorité française (Paris: Gallimard Folio, 2009) 541p.


Urban Walker, Margaret (Marquette University)

“The Expressive Burden of Reparations: Putting Meaning into Money, Words, and Things,” Justice, Responsibility and Reconciliation in the Wake of Conflict, ed. Alice McLachlan and Allen Speight (Dordrecht: Springer, 2013).

"What is Reparative Justice? The Aquinas Lecture 2010." Marquette University Press, 2010.

“Gender and Violence in Focus: A Background for Gender Justice in Reparations,” in Gender and Reparations: Unsettling Sexual Hierarchies while Redressing Human Rights Violations, ed. Ruth Rubio-Marin (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009).

"Moral Repair: Reconstructing Moral Relations After Wrongdoing." New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006


Willaims, Verna (University of Cincinnati)

"Reading, Writing, and Reparations:  Systemic Reform of Public Schools as a Matter of Justice." 11 Mich. J. of Race & L. 419 (2006)

"Reform or Retrenchment:  Single Sex Education and the Construction of Race and Gender." 2004 Wis. L. Rev. 15


Additional Information & Resources


The Carter G. Woodson Institute would like to thank the following sponsors for their support of this symposium:

At the University of Virgina


In addition to our sponsors, the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies wishes to thank the following people and groups for their assistance with various tasks connected to organizing this symposium:  Anne Bromley, Carolyn Dillard, Carey Hill, Marymagdaline Onyango, Stephanie Mitchell, Joy Omenyi, Sherri Winston, members of the Black Law Students Association, and the Black Student Alliance. A very special note of thanks to the heroic Cheryll Lewis and Debbie Best, the two V-8 engines of the Woodson Institute

For more information on the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies, please visit:

Contact Us

The Carter G. Woodson Institute

108 Minor Hall 
McCormick Road

P.O. Box 400162
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4162


(434) 924-3109


(434) 924-8820

Visitor Parking

Shuttle Service to The Law School

Thursday, March 21, 2013

from Courtyard Marriott UVA Hotel 4:45pm &6:00pm

from Madison Hall 5:00pm & 6:15pm


See Map