Tomiko Brown-Nagin ’97 Re-Envisions the Civil Rights Movement Nov. 3
Asked about her topic, Brown-Nagin said, “What would the story of the mid-twentieth struggle for civil rights look like if legal historians de-centered the Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall, and the national NAACP and instead considered the movement from the bottom-up? We would uncover the agency of local people—little-known lawyers and organizers, litigators and negotiators, elites and the grassroots, women and men—and visions of law and social change that often were in conflict with that of the national NAACP. Ultimately, we would become less concerned with Supreme Court doctrine and more concerned with how activists—both lawyers and non-lawyers—facilitate democratic experimentalism.”
Brown-Nagin is a professor of law and history at the University of Virginia and the F. Palmer Weber Research Professor in Civil Liberties and Human Rights. She is also the Charles Warren Visiting Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School. Prior to joining Virginia’s faculty, she served as an associate professor of law and history at Washington University, St. Louis, and before that, was a litigation associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York.
She served as law clerk for the U. S. District Court, Southern District of New York, and for the United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit. She is currently is working on a book, Courage to Dissent, about lawyers, courts, and community-based activism during the civil rights era.
She holds a B.A. from Furman University, an M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the Yale Law Journal.
The James A. Thomas Lecture was established in honor of Dean James A. Thomas ’64 and his many years of service to the Law School, to provide for a lecture by a scholar whose work addresses the concerns of communities or groups currently marginalized within the legal academy or society at large.