Featured Faculty Announcement: Kimberle Crenshaw


New York, NY -- The American Civil Liberties Union is proud to announce that Columbia and University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, a noted scholar and activist, has officially begun her tenure as an Ira Glasser Racial Justice Fellow.

Crenshaw is one of six inaugural recipients of the Fellowship, which is designed to address enduring racial inequalities, including social and economic inequalities caused by historical and current discrimination. The Fellows Program provides support for individuals whose work will advance the ACLU's longstanding commitment to racial justice. Crenshaw was awarded the Fellowship in March of 2004.

"While traditional forms of discrimination continue to plague our society, new forms of government discrimination, often unrecognized, have also developed," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. "The profiling of Arab-Americans post-9/11 provides the latest example, and our criminal justice system remains rife with blatant racial disparities, effectively functioning as a successor to Jim Crow injustice."

Crenshaw has served as a distinguished professor of law at Columbia University and UCLA for over a decade. She has written and lectured extensively on racial justice, and is widely known for her work exploring the intersection of race and gender discrimination. Crenshaw will work to refute the widely held notion that legal remedies for racial injustice have run their course.

Crenshaw will be conducting research towards providing a framework within which academics, lawyers and activists in various fields can resist the claims advanced by some that racial parity has been achieved in the United States. In this regard, she will expose and refute various assumptions underlying what she calls "racial laissez-faire jurisprudence." According to Crenshaw, "A belief is consolidating among jurists and the general public alike that racial disparities are no longer the result of discrimination, but the simple product of fair and open competition. Even when courts acknowledge that social outcomes are sometimes produced by intergenerational disparities in access and opportunity, the task of correcting this societal discrimination is regarded as outside the scope of public policy. As a result, even voluntary efforts to address these problems are mistakenly framed as preferences and successfully challenged in courts."

Crenshaw believes that social justice advocates must defeat the faulty assumptions that underlie these beliefs and communicate these ideas to the broader public that values fairness and opportunity. Her research and scholarship will inform the development of workshops, curricula, and other materials that will be distributed over her two-year tenure at the ACLU.

Crenshaw's expertise on race and gender discrimination, and her communications expertise ideally situate her to serve as a conduit for the transmission of ideas between academia, the civil rights community, grass roots organizations, and the general public. Although Crenshaw acknowledges that the current environment presents significant obstacles in efforts advance new social justice initiatives, she is enthusiastic about working with the ACLU, citing both the significance of its historical role and the new avenues that it has taken under the dynamic leadership of Anthony Romero. "This is an exciting and important time to partner with the ACLU. For generations, the ACLU has met the challenge of protecting civil rights and civil liberties. As we face new challenges today, I look forward to working with the ACLU to strengthen the links between academic and social justice organizations, between civil rights and civil liberties advocacy, and between race and gender equity movements."

The other individuals chosen from over 100 nominations are: Robert T. Carter, Daniel Levitas, Rain Archambeau Marshall, Morris Taylor, and Ray Ybarra. The Fellows are named for longtime ACLU Executive Director Ira Glasser, who headed the organization for 23 years, retiring in 2001.