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February 01, 2022 Critical Race Theory Webinar Series

Race, Reform & Retrenchment Revisited: Can States Ban Learning About Our Full History?

The ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice and the African American Policy Forum are pleased to collaborate on a four-part webinar series on Critical Race Theory (CRT). Over the past year, CRT has been increasingly misrepresented by the Right in an organized, widespread effort to stifle racial justice and gender equity, and weaken our multiracial democracy. In response to these attacks, AAPF held a 5-day Critical Race Theory Summer School in mid-August 2021 to educate participants about the origins, principles, and insights of Critical Race Theory, and to chart a path forward. The opening segment to this series was an edited version of a conversation that took place on the first day of AAPF’s 5-day CRT Summer School. 

The second installment of this series examined how throughout our country’s struggle to reckon with its racial legacies, one powerful faction continually recasts racial justice as a form of racial discrimination against white people. Against this backdrop, today’s attacks on, and distortions of, CRT are not a new ideological project, but reminiscent of narratives from Reconstruction to Jim Crow to modern campaigns against affirmative action. In this second segment, which is an edited conversation from a 2022 American Association of Law Schools Hot Topics session, panelists discussed the exercise and limits of state power in the American Legislative Exchange Council-coordinated campaign to ban under the umbrella of "Critical Race Theory," any possibility of learning about systemic racism and sexism, antisemitism, LGBTQ+ youth, among many other topics. Some of legal academy's most respected thought leaders addressed whether there is a constitutional right to race and gender justice education and whether these educational gag orders violate the First or Fourteenth Amendments, what role law schools can play to address this censorship campaign, why there has been a less than robust response from certain corners, and how free speech differs from academic freedom. Please note that this webinar was not recorded.

In lieu of a recording, please see this Event Leave-Behind Highlights (PDF), provided by the AAPF.

Welcome and Introduction

  • Ann F. Thomas, Board Chair, African American Policy Forum; Otto L. Walter Distinguished Professor of Tax Law, New York Law School; Director, Graduate Tax Program, New York Law School
  • Beth K. Whittenbury, Chair, ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice; Principal, Beth K. Whittenbury & Associates


  • Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law, Berkeley Law; President, American Association of Law Schools
  • Dr. Sumi Cho, Director of Strategic Initiatives, African American Policy Forum; Retired Professor of Law
  • Tanya K. Hernández, Archibald R. Murray Professor of Law, Fordham Law
  • Anil Kalhan, Professor of Law, Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law; Visiting Professor of Law, Yale Law School
  • Randall L. Kennedy, Michael R. Klein Professor of Law, Harvard Law School 
  • Dr. Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Dean and Ryan Roth Gallo & Ernest J. Gallo Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law

Moderated Q&A

  • Janel A. George, Associate Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center; Founding Director, Racial Equity in Education Law and Policy Clinic, Georgetown University Law Center; Council Member, ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice 
  • Mark Rosenbaum, Robins Kaplan Director - Opportunity Under Law, Public Counsel; Adjunct Professor of Law, University of California, Irvine School of Law
  • Ann F. Thomas, Board Chair, African American Policy Forum; Otto L. Walter Distinguished Professor of Tax Law, New York Law School; Director, Graduate Tax Program, New York Law School

Joint Sponsor: African American Policy Forum

Co-Sponsors: ABA Center for Human RightsABA Center for Public Interest LawABA Center on Children and the LawABA Coalition on Racial and Ethnic JusticeABA Commission on Domestic and Sexual ViolenceABA Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights & ResponsibilitiesABA Commission on Homelessness & PovertyABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the ProfessionABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender IdentityABA Commission on Youth at RiskABA Council for Diversity in the Educational PipelineABA Criminal Justice SectionABA Government and Public Sector Lawyers DivisionABA Law Student DivisionABA Section of State and Local Government LawABA Standing Committee on the Law Library of CongressABA Standing Committee on Public EducationABA Young Lawyers Division


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