Stephanie Hinnershitz: Before Loving: How the Naim v. Naim Case Challenges Civil Rights Narratives

Today we welcome a guest blog post from Stephanie Hinnershitz, author of A Different Shade of Justice: Asian American Civil Rights in the South, on the global nature of struggles over civil rights. From the formation of Chinese and Japanese communities in the early twentieth century through Indian hotel owners’ battles against business discrimination in… Continue Reading Stephanie Hinnershitz: Before Loving: How the Naim v. Naim Case Challenges Civil Rights Narratives

Julie M. Weise: African Americans and Immigrants’ Rights in the Trump Era

Back in 2008 when Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton vied for the Democratic nomination, the “Will Latinos support a black candidate?” narrative dominated the news cycle. “Many Latinos are not ready for a person of color,” said a young Latina in a typical quote featured by the New York Times. “I don’t think many Latinos will vote for Obama.” Academic social science from new Latino settlement areas in the U.S. South seemingly confirmed the narrative: “Latino Immigrants come to the U.S. with negative stereotypes of black Americans,” declared a Duke research team after conducting a survey in Durham, N.C., in 2003. Yet though Clinton did dominate among Latinos in the 2008 primary, they rallied to Obama’s side once he clinched the nomination, delivering the country’s first black president a historically large margin of Latino votes that November. Continue Reading Julie M. Weise: African Americans and Immigrants’ Rights in the Trump Era

Deirdre M. Moloney: The Muslim Ban of 1910

Certain immigrants, including Mormons, Hindus, and Muslims faced barriers in their effort to settle in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries because they were perceived as adhering to belief systems that were un-American. Though those religiously based cases were small relative to those immigrants facing exclusion or deportation based on their poverty or on medical grounds, they suggest that religious bias has long been a significant factor in early federal immigration policies. Continue Reading Deirdre M. Moloney: The Muslim Ban of 1910

Elliott Young: Felons and Families

Even as one might criticize Obama for becoming the “Deporter in Chief,” he did not invent the pernicious rhetoric of good and bad immigrants. He merely followed in a long tradition that stretches back to the late nineteenth century when federal immigration restrictions were first written into law to keep out criminals, prostitutes, and the Chinese. Continue Reading Elliott Young: Felons and Families

Off the Page: Roundtable 1: Immigration

UNC Press is proud to host this first in a series of week-long virtual roundtables, featuring Press authors drawing on their work to address issues of contemporary concern. This week we share five short essays by leading scholars of immigration, including Elliott Young, Deirdre M. Moloney, Mireya Loza, Julie M. Weise, and Erika Lee. Continue Reading Off the Page: Roundtable 1: Immigration

Excerpt: The Wilmington Ten, by Kenneth Robert Janken

The case of the Wilmington Ten emerged out of the events of February 1971. In an effort to lay blame for the violence and remove the effective and popular organizer Benjamin Chavis, the Wilmington police and state prosecutor—assisted by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF)—concocted a case against Chavis, eight other black men (five of them high school students), and one white woman. Arrested more than a year after the disturbances, they were charged with conspiracy, burning Mike’s Grocery, and shooting at the firefighters and police who responded to the fire. (Ann Shepard was charged only with conspiracy.) The prosecutor, with the assent of the presiding judge, illegally excluded blacks from the jury. He solicited perjured testimony from his main witnesses to convict the Ten, who were sentenced to a total of 282 years in prison. Their convictions sparked a campaign across North Carolina, the nation, and the world to free them. Continue Reading Excerpt: The Wilmington Ten, by Kenneth Robert Janken

Excerpt: The Trials of Laura Fair: Sex, Murder, and Insanity in the Victorian West, by Carole Haber

In arguing that the jury had to find Laura “not guilty by reason of insanity,” Quint and Cook hoped to focus their attention around four central issues. At the heart of their case, they argued, was the notion that Laura was unconscious and irrational at the time of the murder. In contrast to the prosecution, which had relied on gossip and rumor to condemn Laura’s character, they would base their case on the latest scientific findings and medical expertise. By calling to the stand doctors with advanced knowledge and training, they would prove that Laura—much like Mary Harris before her—was a victim herself, captive to the effects of severe organic disease. Especially when her menstrual cycle approached, she experienced recurring bouts of hysterical mania that left her without control of her actions or awareness of events. Thus, no matter how heinous the act appeared, she was not responsible for its commission. Continue Reading Excerpt: The Trials of Laura Fair: Sex, Murder, and Insanity in the Victorian West, by Carole Haber

Ellen Griffith Spears: End Toxic Discrimination

One Supreme Court decision announced this June received limited notice, in part because it came out the same week as momentous decisions on marriage equality and the Affordable Care Act, and following the horrific tragedy at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. But the Court’s decision in a fair housing dispute, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs et al. v. Inclusive Communities Project, merits serious attention as LGBTQ activists and their allies move on to tackle employment and housing discrimination and as the momentum from the campaign to remove the Confederate flag from public places turns toward a broader agenda. The ruling could be especially significant for activists working to end the disproportionate placement of polluting factories and hazardous waste facilities in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. Continue Reading Ellen Griffith Spears: End Toxic Discrimination

Martha S. Jones on Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch and the Political Power of Black Women

Over at the Huffington Post, Martha S. Jones, coeditor of Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women, puts the nomination of Loretta Lynch for Attorney General in historical and political context. Jones begins: Glimpse a preview of dynamics that will shape the 2016 election cycle in the contest over Loretta Lynch’s nomination as Attorney General.… Continue Reading Martha S. Jones on Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch and the Political Power of Black Women

Excerpt: Framing Chief Leschi, by Lisa Blee

In this excerpt, Lisa Blee examines how the war in Iraq informed the Historical Court of Justice’s decision to exonerate Chief Leschi 150 years later. Continue Reading Excerpt: Framing Chief Leschi, by Lisa Blee

Marc Stein: Sotomayor v. Roberts: Race, Affirmative Action, and Impatience

When I teach students about the history of constitutional law, I usually focus on the substantive legal arguments in Supreme Court decisions, but sometimes I encourage my students to focus on the tone, the emotion, the affect. I try to show my students that this can help us understand what is really going on in these decisions and it can help us consider the underlying issues and the political stakes. Continue Reading Marc Stein: Sotomayor v. Roberts: Race, Affirmative Action, and Impatience

Lara Putnam: Families and the Cost of Borders

Some of the deepest costs of our prohibitionist immigration system have to do with family. And they’re not just emotional costs—they’re economic costs as well. Continue Reading Lara Putnam: Families and the Cost of Borders

Marc Stein: Five Myths about Roe v. Wade

On 22 January 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in Roe v. Wade, the abortion rights case that culminated in one of the most controversial legal rulings in the country’s history. Forty years later, numerous myths continue to circulate about the contents and meanings of Roe. Here are five of the most significant. Continue Reading Marc Stein: Five Myths about Roe v. Wade

Deirdre M. Moloney: State and local immigration policies affect U.S. foreign affairs

But there is another historically significant dimension to the decision that has received less media attention: ceding to states greater authority to regulate immigration would have represented a significant devolution in federal power. Continue Reading Deirdre M. Moloney: State and local immigration policies affect U.S. foreign affairs

Excerpt: National Insecurities, by Deirdre M. Moloney

Historically, race and gender have had the most significant impact on the creation of immigration policy and its outcomes; but those factors have always been intertwined with larger social concerns about foreign policy and national security, the economy, scientific and medical issues, morality, and attitudes about class, religion, and citizenship. Continue Reading Excerpt: National Insecurities, by Deirdre M. Moloney

Video: Trailer for ‘Death Row,’ a film by Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian, included in their new book

View the trailer for the documentary film ‘Death Row,’ included in the new book by Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian called ‘In This Timeless Time: Living and Dying on Death Row in America.’ Continue Reading Video: Trailer for ‘Death Row,’ a film by Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian, included in their new book

Interview: Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian discuss Death Row in America

What is the difference between life and death? It has nothing to do with the crime or the criminal. It has far more to do with local politics (does the prosecutor think he can get some political advantage going for death rather than life or a term of years?), money (can the accused afford a lawyer and investigators who will do the same kind of work the prosecutor gets done automatically?), the location (most death sentences are handed down and carried out in the south, but not uniformly; in Texas, for example, a preponderance of the death sentences come from just three counties). And, finally, it depends on the composition of the appellate courts the year a particular case comes up: some panels are sticklers for justice; some are sticklers for going by the current rules. Sometimes justice and the rules are incompatible, and in capital cases, lives hang in the balance. Continue Reading Interview: Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian discuss Death Row in America

Learn about and learn from Loving v Virginia

As a new documentary film about the Loving v. Virginia case appears, we look back to Fay Botham’s book for some of the religious and legal aspects of the case. Includes an excerpt from the book. Continue Reading Learn about and learn from Loving v Virginia

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 57 years ago today

Fifty-seven years have passed since the ruling in this monumental Supreme Court case that overturned Plessy v. Ferguson and found laws for “separate but equal” black schools and white schools to be unconstitutional. While this decision was a huge move in the right direction in the Civil Rights movement, it was met with resistance by… Continue Reading Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 57 years ago today

Steven I. Levine: Dealing with Osama Bin Laden: A Better Way

Trying Bin Laden in a court of law would have confirmed that we are a nation that seeks to strengthen international law in order to advance peace & security. Continue Reading Steven I. Levine: Dealing with Osama Bin Laden: A Better Way