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Spring 2022

An audience member speaks into a microphone.

Credit: Lorin Granger Harvard Law School Library Book Talk: Lawrence Lessig, Fidelity & Constraint: How the Supreme Court Has Read the American Constitution

Faculty Book Talks take place via Zoom and are open to the Harvard Community, unless noted otherwise.  Advance Registration is required through the links listed below.

Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality

Tuesday February 8, 12:30pm-1:30pm Eastern time via Zoom Webinars
Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Pantheon Books, published January 2022

Join us for a discussion on Civil Rights Queen with HLS Professor and Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Tomiko Brown-Nagin and panelists HLS Professor Kenneth Mack, Georgetown Law Professor Sheryll Cashin, and Harvard University Professor Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham. This event is free and will be recorded. Register via Zoom Webinars.

More about the book from Pantheon:
“Born to an aspirational working-class family during the Great Depression, Constance Baker Motley was expected to make a career as a hairdresser. Instead, she earned a law degree and used it to transform American society. The only woman member of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s legal team for many years, Motley helped litigate Brown v. Board of Education, defended Martin Luther King in Birmingham, and played a critical role in vanquishing Jim Crow laws in throughout the South…Motley was first woman elected borough president of Manhattan and the first black woman elected to the New York Senate. In a third act that capped off her career, the famed civil rights lawyer became the first black woman appointed to the federal judiciary. Burnished with an extraordinary wealth of research and an incisive examination of gender, race, and class, Civil Rights Queen tells the inspiring story of a remarkable American life and of a tumultuous period of social change.  Through this lens of Motley’s life, Tomiko Brown-Nagin asks us to ponder some of our most timeless and urgent questions: How do historically marginalized people access the corridors of power? How does access to power shape individuals committed to social justice? And, what is the price of the ticket?”

If you, or an event participant, require disability-related accommodations, please contact Accessibility Services at

Tomiko Brown-Nagin is Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, the Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School, and a professor of history at Harvard University. In 2019, she was appointed chair of the Presidential Committee on Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Law Institute, and was a distinguished lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. Her previous book, Courage to Dissent won the Bancroft Prize in 2011.

Kenneth Mack is the inaugural Lawrence D. Biele Professor of Law, Affiliate Professor of History at Harvard University, and the co-faculty leader of the Harvard Law School Program on Law and History. A member of the American Law Institute, his work has been published in the Harvard Law ReviewYale Law JournalJournal of American History, and other scholarly journals. In 2016, President Obama appointed him to the Permanent Committee for the Oliver Wendell Holmes Devise. Before joining HLS, he clerked for the Honorable Robert L. Carter, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, and practiced law in the Washington, D.C. office of the firm Covington & Burling.

Sheryll Cashin is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law, Civil Rights and Social Justice at Georgetown University. She has published widely in academic journals and written commentaries for Politico Magazine, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Salon, The Root, and other media. Professor Cashin was law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and Judge Abner Mikva of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. As a Marshall Scholar, she received a master’s in English Law with honors from Oxford University and a J.D. with honors from Harvard Law School, where she was a member of the Harvard Law Review.

Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham is the Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. She has been a tenured faculty member at Harvard since 1993, and she chaired the Department of African and African Americans Studies from 2006-2013. A pioneering scholar in African American women’s history, she is the author of the prizewinning book Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement in the Black Baptist Church 1880-1920. Higginbotham earned her Ph.D. from the University of Rochester in American History, her M.A. from Howard University, and her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.