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Research Programs

Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice

  • MassHumanities Reading Frederick Douglass Together event image

    Reading Frederick Douglass together

    June 30, 2020

    In a July 2019 Q&A, David Harris, managing director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice, discussed the annual public reading of Douglass’ speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”, virtual this year for the first time in its 12-year history.

  • Emancipation Day celebration June 19, 1900

    ‘Juneteenth is a day of reflection of how we as a country and as individuals continue to reckon with slavery’

    June 18, 2020

    Tomiko Brown-Nagin spoke with Harvard Law Today about the history of Juneteenth and its particular relevance more than 150 years later.

  • The man who killed Jim Crow: The legacy of Charles Hamilton Houston

    September 5, 2019

    Charles Hamilton Houston was an inspiring figure in American legal history, and a sometimes controversial one as well. Both sides of his legacy were examined in a lively lecture and Q&A discussion at Harvard Law School this week, to coincide with the 124th anniversary of his birth on September 3, 1895.

  • MassHumanities Reading Frederick Douglass Together event image

    Frederick Douglass’ Fourth of July speech, then and now: A Q&A with David Harris

    June 28, 2019

    On July 2nd, people from across Massachusetts will gather at noon in Boston Common near the State House for the 11th annual public reading of Frederick Douglass’s historic address, "What to the slave is the Fourth of July?"

  • Video: Unexampled Courage 2

    Video: Unexampled Courage

    April 5, 2019

    Harvard Law School recently hosted Judge Richard Gergel, U.S. District Judge of the U. S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, for a talk on his book, "Unexampled Courage,” and a discussion with HLS professors Randall Kennedy, Kenneth Mack and Mark Tushnet.

  • David Harris receives 2018 Governor’s Awards in the Humanities

    David Harris receives 2018 Governor’s Award in the Humanities

    November 20, 2018

    In October, David J. Harris, managing director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law School, received the Massachusetts Governor's Award in the Humanities. Harris was one of four leaders recognized for their "public actions, grounded in an appreciation of the humanities, to enhance civic life in the Commonwealth."

  • ‘I go way back with Professor Ogletree’

    ‘I go way back with Professor Ogletree’

    June 26, 2018

    On the HLS campus this past fall, eminent friends, students, and colleagues gathered to celebrate a man the world knows as a leading force for racial equality and social justice, and the Harvard community knows affectionately as Tree.

  • Tomiko Brown-Nagin on the Civil Rights lawyer who paved the path

    Tomiko Brown-Nagin on the Civil Rights lawyer who paved the path

    May 17, 2018

    On the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the Harvard Gazette sat down with Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School and faculty director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice, to discuss Houston’s role and influence in the Civil Rights Movement.

  • Brown-Nagin named Radcliffe dean

    Brown-Nagin named Radcliffe dean

    April 26, 2018

    Tomiko Brown-Nagin, a leading historian on law and society as well as an authority on constitutional and education law and policy, has been named dean of Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard President Drew Faust announced today.

  • Report finds wide disparities in punishment of students with disabilities by race

    Report finds wide disparities in punishment of students with disabilities by race

    April 19, 2018

    “Disabling Punishment: The Need for Remedies to the Disparate Loss of Instruction Experience by Black Students with Disabilities,” a new report from the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law and UCLA’s Center for Civil Rights Remedies, finds dramatic racial discipline disparities between black children with disabilities and their white peers.

  • New England Patriots players seated at table

    On the way to the Super Bowl, a visit to Harvard Law

    February 1, 2018

    On Jan. 5, New England Patriots Defensive Captain Devin McCourty, teammates Johnson Bademosi, Matthew Slater and Duron Harmon, and team president Jonathan Kraft participated in a 'Listen and Learn' event at HLS, organized by the Fair Punishment Project and the Office of Public Interest Advising, featuring panel discussions on inequities in the criminal justice system.

  • Charles Ogletree and family in audience

    ‘Tree’s’ tremendous legacy: Celebrating Charles Ogletree ’78

    October 11, 2017

    It took an all-star team of panelists to honor the scope and influence of Charles Ogletree’s career last week at HLS—eminent friends, students and colleagues all paying tribute to a man that the world knows as a leading force for racial equality and social justice, and that the Harvard community knows affectionately as Tree.

  • Honoring Charles Ogletree

    Honoring Charles Ogletree

    October 11, 2017

    Hundreds of friends, former students, colleagues, and well-wishers gathered last Monday in a joyful celebration of the life and career of Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree, advocate for Civil Rights, author of books on race and justice, and mentor to former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.

  • Prosecutors Conference_Panel

    Redefining the role of prosecutors

    August 31, 2017

    The Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law School joined forces with the ACLU of Massachusetts to host a daylong conference at Harvard Law School in June, titled “Redefining the Role of the Prosecutor within the Community.”

  • Fair Punishment Project’s new Legal Advisory Council issues brief on sentences for juveniles

    November 21, 2016

    The HLS Fair Punishment Project’s Legal Advisory Council has issued an issue brief arguing that a sentencer may impose a life without parole sentence upon a juvenile only after concluding that the child is “the rare juvenile offender who exhibits such irretrievable depravity that rehabilitation is impossible.”

  • Taking on a New Cause

    October 21, 2016

    HLS Professor Charles Ogletree ’78 announced this summer that he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and said he will work to raise awareness of the disease and its disproportionate effect on African-Americans. In sharing his story and putting a spotlight on this disease, he is continuing his lifelong efforts to help others.

  • Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Professor Ogletree vows to fight it

    July 14, 2016

    Charles Ogletree '78, the Jesse Climenko Professor of Law and director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law School, recently announced that he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He said he will work to raise awareness of the disease and its disproportionate effect on African Americans.

  • Seizing the Opportunity

    April 28, 2016

    Since graduating from Harvard College in 1985 and then getting his law degree, Alan Jenkins '89 had been on a career fast track, but he felt frustrated about the forces of injustice and inequality he saw around him.

  • Death Penalty 2015: Lowest number of executions in 25 years, but marked by disability and impairment

    December 23, 2015

    In 2015, America had the lowest number of executions in 25 years, according to a new report released by Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice. But of the 28 people executed, 68% suffered from severe mental disabilities or experienced extreme childhood trauma and abuse.

  • Harvard Law School: 2015 in review

    December 17, 2015

    Supreme Court justices, performance art, student protests and a vice president. A look back at 2015, highlights of the people who visited, events that took place and everyday life at Harvard Law School.

  • Honored ‘ambassadors for Harvard Law School’ reflect on long friendship

    October 22, 2015

    The Harvard Law School Association presented its highest award this past spring to William P. Alford ’77 and Charles J. Ogletree ’78 —two of Harvard Law School's most distinguished professors, mentors to generations of jurists, advisers to senators, presidents and world leaders, and celebrated doers of good works—and longtime friends.

  • HLS report explores potential and limitations of body cameras for police

    June 8, 2015

    The Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School has released a report, authored by Chike Croslin '16, Justin Dews, and Jaimie McFarlin '15 of the Harvard Black Law Students Association, titled Independent Lens: Toward Transparency, Accountability, and Effectiveness in Police Tactics. The report explores the potential and limitations of body-worn cameras for police.

  • Dying While Black and Brown

    May 4, 2015

    In March, Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice sponsored a dance performance at HLS titled “Dying While Black and Brown.” Presented one day before the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march, it dramatized the disproportionate incarceration and execution of people of color.

  • Dying While Black and Brown: Hamilton Houston Institute hosts dance performance on incarceration and capital punishment (video)

    March 20, 2015

    On March 6, Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice hosted Dying While Black and Brown, a dance performance focused on capital punishment and the disproportionate numbers of incarcerated people of color. The performance was first commissioned by the San Francisco Equal Justice Society as part of the society’s campaign to restore 14th Amendment protections for victims of discrimination, including those on death row.

  • After Ferguson, students and faculty seek solutions in law and policy

    January 15, 2015

    And discussions have continued into the new year about the policy and procedures of police, prosecutors and the community at large.

  • Advocates explore how to build a greater Boston region for all

    July 18, 2014

    Equity advocates from around Greater Boston gathered at Harvard Law School on July 11 for a discussion about the region’s key priorities in promoting opportunity for people of all backgrounds. The event included speeches, panels and the release of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council’s “State of Equity in Metro Boston” Policy Agenda.

  • ‘Free’ voter IDs are costly, Harvard Law report finds

    June 26, 2014

    Obtaining a “free” voter identification card can typically cost an individual between $75 and $175. When legal fees are factored in, the cost can increase…

  • The politics of money: Feldman on the Court and campaign finance

    April 7, 2014

    The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down aggregate campaign contribution limits, in a ruling that frees individuals to donate to as many candidates as they wish. Harvard Law School’s Noah Feldman, Bemis Professor of International Law, spoke with the Harvard Gazette about the ruling, and what it means for elections and for the future of campaign-finance reform.

  • In Honor of Nelson Mandela: When, if ever, is violence justifiable in struggles for political or social change? (video)

    March 28, 2014

    A panel of scholars gathered at Harvard Law School March 14 to examine the legacy of Nelson Mandela with a discussion about the use of violence for political or social change.

  • Juvenile in Justice: HLS hosts photo exhibit by Richard Ross (video)

    March 28, 2014

    Credit: Lolita Parker Jr. Richard Ross is a photographer and professor of art based in Santa Barbara, California. His photo project, Juvenile In Justice, turns…

  • Juvenile in Justice: a photo exhibit by Richard Ross

    March 24, 2014

    A selection of photographs from photographer Richard Ross' haunting collection, "Juvenile in Justice," is on display at Harvard Law School, on the 3rd floor of Wasserstein Hall, from March 21 to April 11. The exhibit is sponsored by the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice.

  • Docherty, Nomamiukor and Pyetranker at an NGO forum

    Clinical Voices: Jonathan Nomamiukor ’13 reflects on his experience

    July 3, 2013

    Read more about what compelled Jonathan Nomamiukor ’13 to take a break from law school, his work with Harvard Law School's International Human Rights Clinic on the issue of fully autonomous weapons, and the mentorship he received from Clinical Instructor Bonnie Docherty.

  • Ken Burns and HLS Professor Charles Ogletree

    Ken Burns offers preview of ‘Central Park Five’ at HLS (video)

    April 17, 2013

    On March 12 at Harvard Law School, award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns joined Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree and two Central Park Five members for a film screening and panel discussion of his new documentary “The Central Park Five,” which tells the story of five Black and Latino teenagers who were wrongly convicted of raping and beating a white woman in New York City’s Central Park in 1989. The event was co-sponsored by Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice and the Prison Studies Project and the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research.

  • HLS Professors Charles Ogletree ’78 and Lani Guinier

    Guinier and Ogletree honored by the Maynard Institute

    February 21, 2013

    In commemoration of Black History Month, Harvard Law School Professors Lani Guinier and Charles Ogletree ’78 were recognized by the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education as two of 28 noteworthy African-Americans who have contributed to the “world of words.”

  • Looking back at Little Rock: At HLS, Justice Breyer and nine appellate justices revisit Cooper v. Aaron (video)

    November 1, 2012

    In October, the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice sponsored a two-day conference looking back at Cooper v. Aaron and the impact it’s had on law and education over the course of 55 years. The event brought together legal scholars, students, and civil-rights lawyers and featured a moot-court proceeding involving U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and nine appellate judges, to revisit the legal questions raised by Cooper.

  • Harvard Law School Media Roundup: From Gun Control to the Roberts’s Court to the Arab Spring

    July 26, 2012

    Over the past week, a number of HLS faculty members shared their viewpoints on events in the news. Here are some excerpts.

  • HLS conference tackles implicit racial bias in the legal system (video)

    July 11, 2012

    An array of legal scholars, judges, practitioners and community leaders gathered at Harvard Law School on June 14 to discuss implicit racial bias, its presence in society and the law and new ideas about reducing its negative impact on disadvantaged groups.

  • Metropolitan Area Planning Council’s ‘State of Equity’ report to be released at HLS

    December 13, 2011

    The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) has released a summary of “The State of Equity in Metro Boston,” a report studying the ways that inequity affects the residents of greater Boston. The full report was released on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at an event co-hosted by Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice.

  • From a slave-owning founder to the President of the United States: A look at a legacy of complexity and progress

    September 30, 2011

    Harvard Law School was founded with a bequest from Isaac Royall, a brutal slave owner. Two centuries later, the first black President of the U.S. and first black First Lady are HLS alumni.

  • Wendell Phillips

    Symposium explores legacy of the 19th century social reformer Wendell Phillips (video)

    June 24, 2011

    Abolitionist Wendell Phillips, who graduated from Harvard Law School in 1833, was a nationally know celebrity during his lifetime. On the bicentennial of his birth, a symposium held at HLS June 2-4, cosponsored by the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, focused on the life and legacy of the social reformer, and the questions they raise for those working for social justice today.

  • Charles Hamilton Houston

    HLS’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute releases new report on METCO’s positive track record

    June 17, 2011

    Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice (CHHIRJ) and the Pioneer Institute have jointly published the first comprehensive review in nearly a decade of the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO), the nation’s second-longest running voluntary school desegregation program.

  • Charles Ogletree '78 and Jonathan K. Stubbs LL.M. '79

    Ogletree in Politico: Washington walks Ugandan tightrope

    April 28, 2011

    "Washington walks Ugandan tightrope," an op-ed co-authored by Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree and University of Richmond School of Law Professor Jonathan Stubbs LL.M. ’79, was featured in the Opinion section of the April 27 edition of Politico.

  • Panelists: Susan Cole, Michael Gregory, Frank Michelman '60

    Panelists discuss Dean Minow’s latest book "In Brown’s Wake: Legacies of America’s Educational Landmark" (video)

    October 18, 2010

    The continuing debate over Brown v. Board of Education's effects was forcefully illustrated on Tuesday, Sept. 28, by a panel discussion of Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow’s new book, “In Brown’s Wake: Legacies of America’s Educational Landmark,” the first in a series of events on faculty-authored books sponsored by the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice and HLS.

  • Ogletree in Washington Post: After Shirley Sherrod, we all need to slow down and listen

    July 28, 2010

    HLS Professor Charles J. Ogletree Jr. co-wrote an op-ed, “After Shirley Sherrod, we all need to slow down and listen,” with Johanna Wald, that appeared in the July 25, 2010, edition of the Washington Post. Ogletree is the executive director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice and the author most recently of "The Presumptions of Guilt: The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Race, Class, and Crime in America." Johanna Wald is director of strategic planning at the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice.

  • Charles Hamilton Houston

    "It is easier to build strong children than fix broken men:" At HLS summit, Edelman says we must move from punishment to justice (video)

    June 28, 2010

    For ten of thousands of young people, childhood can consist of a pipeline to prison. On Thursday, April 29, 2010, the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School hosted a conference addressing the issue locally: “Coming Together to Dismantle the Cradle to Prison Pipeline in Massachusetts: A Half-Day Summit of Community, Faith and Policy Leaders.”

  • Charles Hamilton Houston

    The Supreme Court limits life sentences for juveniles, citing Houston Institute brief

    May 24, 2010

    On May 16, 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that juveniles who commit crimes in which no one is killed may not be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Justice Anthony Kennedy ’61 wrote the opinion for a 6-3 Court, citing a brief submitted by the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute at HLS, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

  • HLS’s Houston Institute files amicus brief in school-to-prison pipeline case

    March 29, 2010

    The HLS Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice recently filed, along with a host of other organizations, an amicus curiae brief in the North Carolina Supreme Court on a school-to-prison pipeline case.