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CSRRR News & Notes University of Florida Levin College of Law, Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations | 2019-2020

Prof. Katheryn Russell-Brown, CSRRR Director

Greetings everyone,

We had planned to send our Winter 2020 newsletter in March 2020. The arrival of COVID-19 changed everything. With this newsletter, we provide you with updates on the work CSRRR engaged in during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Beginning in Fall 2020, we will send bi-annual newsletter briefs.

With the objective of fostering communities of dialogue, CSRRR embraces historically and empirically based thinking, talking, teaching and writing on race. To this end, the Center creates and supports programs designed to enhance race-related curriculum development for faculty, staff, and students in collegiate and professional schools.

Please join us in our work,

Katheryn Russell-Brown

Celebrating 60 Years of Admission: Honoring George Starke, Jr.

Mr. George Starke, Jr.

During the Spring 2019 commencement ceremonies, George Starke, Jr., was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Florida. In 1958, four years after Brown v. Board of Education, Starke, was the first Black student admitted to the University of Florida. At the end of three semesters, Starke withdrew from the law school due to physical and emotional strains.

Members of BLSA, Prof. Nunn and Prof. Russell-Brown

Commemorating the Passing of a pioneer: W. George Allen

W. George Allen

W. George Allen, the first Black student to graduate from the University of Florida, passed away November 7, 2019. He was 83 years old. Mr. Allen, who grew up in Sanford, Florida, graduated from UF in 1962. His groundbreaking accomplishments opened the door for African American students and members of other diverse groups to attend, matriculate, and graduate from UF. Mr. Allen received admission to Harvard and U.C., Berkeley but chose UF so he could stay in the South and open doors for other students.

“I’m a native Floridian, and I felt that somebody had to integrate the University of Florida…The racists told me I didn’t belong there and I’d never graduate. I got into one or two fights with students who were disrespectful, but I never considered quitting. I made it known that you’re not going to run me away. You’re not going to scare me. I’m going to outstudy all of you, and I’m going to graduate.” Allen told Florida Trend in 2013.

UF Law’s BLSA chapter paid tribute to Mr. Allen on November 14, 2019. Mr. Allen was a friend, role model, and mentor to many.

Inaugural Meeting of Race-Related Law School Centers

In October 2019, New York University’s Center on Race, Inequality and the Law, convened a meeting of the directors of race-related law school centers across the country. There were more than 25 participants. Representatives from law school programs and centers included the University of Cincinnati, Columbia, Fordham, Howard, Rutgers, Seattle University, University of Virginia, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, University of North Carolina, Wayne State, and UF.

Dr. Russell-Brown participated on the panel, “Race, Pedagogy and Facilitating School-wide Conversations on Racial Justice.” Other panels addressed center programs, center support, and how our centers can support one another.

Collaborative Work

At the invitation of UF’s Chief Diversity Officer Antonio Farias, an informal network of UF Center Directors has begun to hold monthly meetings. The group includes the Center for European Studies, the Center for Latin American Studies, the Center for African Studies, the Center for Humanities in the Public Sphere, the Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies Research, the Center for Global Economic Studies, the Center for Arts, Migration, and Entrepreneurship, the Bob Graham Center, and the CSRRR.

Our first collaborative effort will be a series of UF center events organized around the theme: “The U.S. Presidential Election: National and Global Perspectives.” Each Center will sponsor a program that focuses on this topic. Events will take place between September 1 and October 30, 2020.

Work by Center Workers

Prof. Russell-Brown is finishing up the third edition of her book, The Color of Crime, published by New York University Press.

Dr. Russell-Brown’s second children’s book was published in January. A Voice Named Aretha is a picture book biography of Aretha Franklin, known as the Queen of Soul. The book, published by Bloomsbury, has already received “starred” reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Books.

Professor Russell-Brown’s writing and research for younger audiences is part of her academic project to help fill the gaps in racial knowledge and understanding for elementary, middle and high school students.

Actualizing the Potential of Youth after the School Bell Rings: The Youth Development Research Practice Partnership (YDRPP)

What do children and adolescents do with their time and minds after the school day ends? What systems support youth over time to mature and reach their potential in adulthood? These two questions are at the core of a research practice partnership and study launched in 2019 by CSRRR Postdoctoral Associate Dr. Diedre Houchen. Convening an interdisciplinary team of scholars across UF and other institutions, the YDRPP project is focused on youth development in “out of school time”- organized or informal activities that youth participate in after school, evening, on weekends, and during summer. In the first phase of the project, the YDRPP conducted an exploratory study with Alachua County Youth Program providers within the Bettering Out of School Time (BOOST) network. The findings of that study provide a fundamental understanding of the nature of youth and their developmental needs, highlights the work of Alachua County youth and establishes a shared language for all those engaged in supporting children and youth in Alachua County.

In June, July and August of 2019, the YDRPP presented their findings to the City of Gainesville Commission, the Children’s Trust of Alachua County, and the School Board of Alachua County respectively. YDRPP shared the framework which undergirds evidence based youth development programs and shared the needs related to youth, race, and racial disparities in Alachua County. YDRPP is now entering into the next phase of their study. You can find a copy of the research statement here and an interview with Dr. Houchen and Dr. Wegner (UF HHP) here!

Members of BOOST (left) and Dr. Houchen speaking to Gainesville City Commission (right)

You can find a copy of the research statement here and listen here to an interview with Dr. Houchen and Dr. Wegner.

When They See Us

On October 22, 2019 CSRRR co-sponsored a discussion on race, crime and justice with the W. George Allen Chapter of the Black Law Students Association. The event, centered on the Netflix miniseries about the Central Park Five case, “When They See Us.” The panel included Professor Kenneth Nunn, Professor Sarah Wolking, History Professor Steven Noll, and 3L Dalia Figueredo. CSRRR Director, Katheryn Russell-Brown, moderated the discussion. Over 150 people attended the event to learn more about the case and dialogue on the ethical and professional responsibilities of attorneys practicing criminal law.

Event panelists Prof. Russell-Brown, Dalia Figueredo, Prof. Noll, Prof. Wolking, and Prof. Nunn

CSRRR Book Discussions on Race

CSRRR continues to host discussions for the UF and local community on timely books related to race and race relations. These events create space for engagement with important race-related material and active discussion opening up communities of dialogue. CSRRR facilitates the dialogue and each member of the discussion contributes their own ideas and reflection.

Meet Yegelwel Fellowship Recipient Qasim Haq

Qasim Haq

Qasim Haq is a 3L from south Florida who came to UF by way of Florida International University (B.A. History). Qasim’s interest in social justice and increasing political polarization translates to passion and commitment. Here are Qasim’s reflections on his summer Fellowship with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL):

Before my summer at ADL began I was not sure what to expect. I knew ADL was a nonprofit civil rights organization, I knew that ADL did a lot of policy work, and I knew that ADL was heavily involved in the Jewish community as per their mission statement. What I did not know nor expect was the vast array of issues which ADL advocated for. From their work fighting state laws which tried to impose religion in schools, to their work passing hate crime ordinances in other states to continue the nationwide adoption of hate crime legislation. Here in Florida I was able to see a small part of ADL’s attempts to extend Florida’s own hate crime legislation to protect the trans community, something that I would not have expected them to be involved in when I applied to spend my first summer in law school at ADL. When I applied to be a Yegelwel Fellow at the Anti-Defamation League only a few days had passed since the horrific events which took place in the Christchurch mosque shootings. I wanted to be involved and see what I could do to make a difference in any way that I could. I’m happy that I got the opportunity to do just that over my first summer in law school.

Investigating Black Law: A Digital Oral History Project of Black Law Alumni

Dr. Houchen with oral history course members Vieux Toure, Nikole Miller, Janeille Mcphail, Ebony Love, Brianna Holness, and Juwan Parrish

During the Fall 2019 Semester, six BLSA students undertook an independent study course with Dr. Diedre Houchen on oral history theory and methods. As part of the course, the class conducted thirteen oral histories with Black Alumni of the UF Levin College of Law. The collection of interviews span the entire history of Black students at the Levin College of Law, highlighting the narratives and experiences of seminal trailblazers for equality and justice, such as George Starke the first African American student to attend UF (1958), the first African American male graduate George Allen (1962) and the first African American women graduate Hazel Land (1973). They include the life story and professional accounts of more recent graduates, such as Yolanda Cash Jackson (’90) and Sean Shaw (’03). The project documents and preserves the rich diversity of experiences of UF Levin College of Law alumni before, during, and after their educational journey.

The collection of interviews, photos, audio and video will be housed permanently in the George A. Smathers Institutional Repository at UF and will be available for scholars, researchers, and the general public to review and access.

Fostering Dialogue on Race: Introducing CSRRR 2020 Course Development Grant Recipients

Dr. Elizabeth Garcia

Course: Latina Narratives of Citizenship and Belonging

Dr. Garcia was awarded a Course Development Grant to design and teach a course this Spring in the Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies Research. The course focuses on the ways Latina narratives represent how race and gender intersect in the construction of citizenship and belonging for Latinx populations in the United States. The readings for the course span various Latinx populations including Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans, Puerto Ricans, Dominican Americans, and Peruvian Immigrants. The narratives include both those that depict multiple generations of Latinx American citizens as well as experiences of recent undocumented immigrants.

Dr. Elizabeth Garcia

Dr. Chris Busey

Course: Theorizing Race and Racism in Educational Research

Dr. Busey was awarded a Course Development Grant to design and teach a Fall 2020 course in the College of Education. Keeping with the diverse and global traditions of racial theorizing, this race primer course aims to explore several critical theorizations of race prominently featured and, in some cases, neglected in 21st century educational research and trace the socio-historical foundations and transnational parallels of various theorizations of race;. Ultimately this course will engage future researchers in understanding how multidimensional racial theorizations can operate as frameworks for addressing educational inequities through research.

Chris Busey

CSRRR has a digital archive of its events, materials, research and memorabilia.