Professor Margaret Montoya (HLS ’78), a renowned Critical Race Theory (CRT) scholar and the first Latina graduate of HLS, will present about the history of CRT with a particular focus on theory, praxis, student and scholar activism, and futures of CRT. This event is intended to introduce students to CRT as well as provide a space for story-telling, story-listening, and for students to ask critical questions about CRT.
This lunch talk is a part of the 2nd Annual 2020 Critical Race Theory Conference. This year’s conference is titled: “Critical Race Theory: Freedom Dreaming for a Radical Reconstruction.” In Black Reconstruction, W.E.B. Du Bois coined the term “abolition-democracy” to capture the grand, unrealized potential of transnational social and economic change initiated during the Reconstruction era. This vision of universal enfranchisement and economic redistribution would require solidarity across the color line and new democratic institutions. We hope to uplift, interrogate, and connect scholarship and movements for decarceration, fair housing, solidarity economies, migrant justice, voting rights, and more – all with an eye towards abolition democracy.
Margaret Montoya was born in Las Vegas, New Mexico to Ricardo and Virginia Montoya. She traces her ancestry to families who have been in New Mexico since it was controlled by Spain in the early 19th Century and by México until 1848. Upon deciding to go to law school, she was the first Latina to be accepted to Harvard Law School. When she graduated with her law degree in 1978, she won the prestigious Harvard University’s Sheldon Traveling Fellowship (also won by Justice Antonin Scalia), which allowed her to travel through Europe and Asia, studying affirmative action in Malaysia and India.
Montoya has been a member of the UNM law school faculty since 1992 and has taught courses in constitutional rights, torts, contracts, clinical law and employment law, and in her seminars, she examines issues of race, ethnicity, gender, culture and language.
Montoya has been working to create P-20 pipeline partnerships with the New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association, the public schools, the judiciary, nonprofits and policymakers. In 2003, a group of law students under her supervision filed an amicus brief in Grutter v. Bollinger, anaffirmative action case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Her work on pipeline and other health disparity issues led to her assignment as the senior adviser to the executive vice president at the UNM Health Sciences Center. She holds a secondary appointment in the center’s Department of Community and Family Health. She has been a member of the UNM School of Medicine’s admission committee for its Combined BA/MD Degree program.
Montoya’s scholarship appears in law reviews, anthologies and casebooks and is used in many high school, undergraduate, graduate and law school courses throughout the United States. Her best-known article, Mascaras, Trenzas y Greñas: Un/Masking the Self While Un/Braiding Latina Stories and Legal Discourse, connects autobiographical narratives with legal analysis and focuses on resisting the cultural assimilation that often comes with higher education.