Wendy Greene is a Professor of Law at Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law; the Director of the Kline Law Center for Law, Policy, and Social Action; and Co-Chair of the Section's African American Affairs Committee.
Where are you from? How have your experiences here, or throughout your upbringing, influenced your passions and aspirations today?
I am originally from Columbia, South Carolina. My parents were civil rights activists and integrationists in South Carolina. Both of my parents were educators; many members of my family were also educators and social justice advocates. At a very early age, I learned about not only the undignifying experiences of Jim Crow but also my parents’ collective activism to dismantle Jim Crow laws and customs in all aspects of public and civic life. My parents’ and family members’ experiences alongside the experiences of other civil rights advocates who sought to eradicate systems of racial subordination—root and branch—inspired my passion to likewise do the same namely through public education, scholarship, and advocacy as a civil rights law professor.
What drives you?
Joy, justice, freedom, visions and missions bigger than self.
Why is the African American Affairs Committee important and what do you hope to accomplish with it?
The mission of the African Americans Affairs Committee is inherently aligned with my personal and professional purpose of affirming the full citizenry of African descendants, which unfortunately American law and policy have often been used to either deny or diminish. It is my hope that the African American Affairs Committee will continue the meaningful work of uplifting the countless contributions and myriad experiences of African descendants that have impacted law, policy, and society and continue to shape the trajectory of civil rights and social justice movements in the U.S. and abroad.
What does economic justice mean to you?
Agency, autonomy, access and accountability.
What do you feel is the greatest challenge to economic justice today?
Apathy, greed, and inhumanity.
How does economic justice interact with the African American Affairs Committee and how can it accomplish change?
Actualizing economic and racial justice for African descendants domestically and globally is inseparable. Therefore, any initiative that the African American Affairs Committee advances, which seeks to prevent or redress racial injustices that people of African descent are experiencing, will inherently encompass an economic dimension and vice versa.
When you look back, what is it that you want your advocacy and professional career to stand for?
As a law professor and civil rights advocate, I am blessed to witness in real time the positive impact of my scholarly activism combating entrenched forms of racial injustice, discrimination, and inequity. Through my teaching, scholarship, and advocacy on civil rights and social justice, I endeavor to enable and empower both current and future generations of people who have been historically and/or systematically marginalized, to live more freely, fully, and authentically as well as inspire others to do the daily work of ensuring that these human rights are protected, respected, and affirmed. Overall, my hope is that my professional life’s journey stands for a legacy of transformative, purpose-driven, inter-generational work aimed to protect our human rights to live free from racial and other forms of discrimination and to be treated with dignity and humanity.
What CRSJ project(s) are you working on? Or, what have you undertaken in CRSJ that you found most rewarding to have worked on? Are there any upcoming events or projects you want us all to know about?
Currently, I am actively co-planning the African American Affairs Committee’s Juneteenth program, “Juneteenth: Reflections on Freedom, Racial, and Economic Justice for African Descendants,” co-sponsored with the Nevada Equal Rights Commission. This public program, featuring Professor Tanya Hernandez (Fordham University School of Law) as the keynote speaker, will take place on Friday, June 16th in Las Vegas, Nevada and will be streaming online via Zoom. See here for in-person registration and virtual registration.
What do you do to relax in your spare time?
My life is pretty full, so I don’t know if I have “spare time” per se because I am intentional about living life abundantly. Relatedly, I am also very intentional about creating (and receiving) plentiful opportunities for relaxation and restoration like reading, traveling, dancing, spending quality time with my friends and family, cooking and enjoying culinary, spa, musical, and other cultural experiences.
What is one thing most people do not know about you that you feel they should?
I have four names on my birth certificate, yet Wendy is not one of them. Upon my early arrival, my mother felt Wendy—rather than Doris, which my parents had already decided upon—better fit my essence as a newborn. I am the namesake of my mother, Doris, and two great-aunts also named Doris. I am also named after three other great-aunts, which is reflected in my two middle names: Ellana and Edwinton.