2015 Conference

The Present and Future of Civil Rights: Race and Reform in 21st Century America.  November 20-21, 2015

In 2014, the nation marked the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Freedom Summer.  In 2015, we recognized the fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  As we move forward in the 21st century, however, America finds itself at the beginning of a new era defined by its own set of civil rights struggles. The battles of 2015 are in some ways markedly different from those of the 1950s and 1960s, as “whites only” signs and overt displays of societally condoned racism are mostly relegated to history.  However, what remains is a country full of disparately impacted populations, with people of color facing disadvantages at home, at work, at school, and in the justice system, all in the context of a society that prides itself on its imagined march towards post-racial colorblindness.

A shifting landscape, however, simply means that the civil rights movements of the 21st century must also shift in line with modern realities.  “The Present and Future of Civil Rights Movements: Race and Reform in 21st Century America” presents an opportunity for scholars, teachers, practitioners, and activists to engage with each other as they discuss their unique perspectives on inequalities throughout different facets of modern America.  In exploring today’s civil rights struggles, including the disproportionate imprisonment of populations of color, decreased access to housing, and persistent roadblocks to basic civic freedoms such as voting, this conference will provide an opportunity for those who recognize the persistent impact of systematic racism to reflect on the past and present in order to better inform the future.

2010 Conference

This conference aims to frame a new scholarly discussion of race. What are the issues that should be at the heart of our public discourse on race? What can we as scholars and empiricists offer to this discussion that might help address racial inequality or improve our understanding of race? What is the significance of President Obama's election for racial identity and equality? Should — can — we reframe the stories we tell about race?

To view webcasts of this conference, please see the Duke Law webcast page.

This conference honors the life and work of the late Dr. John Hope Franklin, who taught at Duke Law School and devoted his life's work to understanding the impact of racism on American life.

The conference is sponsored by the Center on Law, Race and Politics and the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University. For more information, contact Brianna Brake at the Duke Center on Law, Race and Politics, (919) 613-8522, or