ClassCrits VIII Emerging Coalitions: Challenging the Structures of Inequality
Sponsored by the University of Tennessee College of Law
Knoxville, TN * October 23-24, 2015
Call For Papers and Participation (Download PDF)
In the past few months, new alliances have emerged on the progressive left, sparked in part by the shooting deaths of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and other young black men by police officers across the country. After grand jury decisions refused to issue indictments in the Brown and Garner cases, protests erupted across the country, in big cities and small towns alike. While New York City police turned their backs on Mayor Bill DeBlasio after he remarked that he trains his biracial son on how to interact with the police, labor leader Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, noted that both Brown’s mother and the police officer who killed her son are union members. He commented, “Our brother killed our sister’s son and we do not have to wait for the judgment of prosecutors or courts to tell us how terrible this is.”
Retail and fast food workers engaged in the “Fight for $15/Lucha Por $15” march wearing “I Can’t Breathe” shirts, chanting, “Hands up, don’t shoot.” Across shared interests, community groups, students, and churches are increasingly supporting labor strikes and immigrant rights, among others. Reverend Dr. William Barber II of the N.A.A.C.P., a leader of North Carolina’s “Moral Mondays” movement, explains, “We recognize that the intersectionality of all these movements is our opportunity to fundamentally redirect America.”
These new alliances have emerged in an era of heightened economic vulnerability and precarity for the 99 percent. The economy has begun to recover from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, yet workers continue to struggle as wages stagnate and labor rights are openly violated and legislatively curtailed. Students in higher education and their families continue to be weighed down by interest-bearing loans. State and federal legislatures continue to cut fundamental components of the safety net. Meanwhile, Wall Street firms and the 1 percent grow ever richer. Wall Street continues to work with legislators to successfully weaken already weak financial regulation meant to protect the economy from systemic failure and fraud; while judicial decisions continue to empower corporatization of elections by undermining campaign finance and other voting rights laws.
Thus, the Eighth ClassCrits conference will focus on efforts to combat injustice and inequality through coalitional praxis. ClassCrits VIII particularly seeks to engage activists and lawyers who believe their work should be informed by a deep understanding of the limitations and potential of current legal and institutional structures, as academics and activists alike strive to energize and mobilize our many communities to participate and build coalitions for progressive social change.
We invite panel proposals, roundtable discussion proposals, and paper presentations that speak to this year’s theme, as well as to general ClassCrits themes. We are also interested in receiving proposals from law clinicians who engage in activist lawyering as a core part of their curriculum design. See the following page for details.
Finally, we extend a special invitation to junior scholars (i.e., graduate students and non-tenured faculty members) to submit proposals for works in progress. At least one senior scholar, as well as other ClassCrits scholars, will provide feedback and detailed commentary upon each work in progress in a small, supportive working session at this year’s workshop.