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Racial Justice in the U.S.: Drake Law School Actions

Like millions of others around the world, the Drake Law School community reacted strongly to the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. The school's mission includes preparing graduates to promote justice. While it is beyond the scope of this guide to include all the ways the school fulfills this mission, this page attempts to capture some of the more significant initiatives the school has taken since mid-2020 to further the cause of racial equality under the law.

"Please know that we stand in solidarity with our students of color – we see you, we hear you, and we support you.  We stand with all of those working to make positive change in our society. We share your abhorrence for the brutality inflicted on George Floyd and so many other victims of racial injustice.  I hope that together we can continue this mission to make justice for all a reality for all."

Part of a June 3, 2020 message from Drake University Law School Dean Jerry L. Anderson

Spring 2021

Coordinated by Prof. Danielle Shelton, several Drake professors taught a new one-credit course, Current Topics in Race & the Law, that explores the role that race plays in the law. As an outgrowth of one of the capstone projects, the law school formed a new alumni committee on equity and inclusion. Twenty alumni attended its first meeting on April 16.

Prof. Danielle Shelton and Associate Provost Erin Lain facilitated a Drake Law School Faculty Workshop on Integrating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion into the Law School Curriculum.

At the April 22, 2021 faculty meeting, the faculty approved two new courses (Law and Social Change and Race, Law & Social Science) and a new certificate program: Social Justice and Public Interest Lawyering

Fall 2020 Lecture Series

Drake University Law School Exploring Racism in America


Drake University Law School will host a fall webinar series to explore whether existing policies and practices perpetuate racial inequities in American society – from racial profiling to Afrocentric facial feature bias and environmental harms. This series of live-streamed talks, open to law students, lawyers and the larger community, features Drake Law faculty and guests sharing their expertise about underlying structures that reinforce racism and oppression in our society.

All lectures will be delivered on-line and are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. CT. This series is free and open to the public.

Click here to register.

Friday, Sept. 4
Unbiased Policing and Anti-Racial Profiling Legislation
Russell Lovell and David Walker, Professors Emeriti of Law, Drake Law School

Lovell and Walker will talk about their important work that led to the enactment of the Unbiased Policing Ordinance in the city of Des Moines earlier this summer. Approved for 1 hour Iowa CLE credit, Activity code 354042

Friday, Sept. 11
Over-representation of Minority Children in the Child Welfare System
Jami Hagemeier, Interim Director, Joan and Lyle Middleton Center for Children's Rights, and Associate Clinical Professor, Drake Law School

Hagemeier will discuss how implicit bias impacts decisions made at key points, generational trauma, the system's need to recruit and retain minority resource families, and difficulties with kinship placements. Approved for 1 hour Iowa CLE credit, Activity code 354039

Friday, Sept. 25
The #MeToo Movement and Black Feminism: How the Mainstream White Feminist Movement Failed Black Women and Where We Go from Here
Julia Steggerda-Corey, Director, Compliance and Risk Management Program, Drake Law School; and Victoria Millet, Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Associate, University of Minnesota   

Steggerda-Corey and Millet will explore the origins of the #MeToo movement and how and where Black women were excluded, unique challenges Black women have faced in American society, and legal developments that have emerged since the #MeToo movement began that address fight sexual harassment and sexual violence. Approved for 1 hour Iowa CLE credit, Activity code 354045

Friday, Oct. 9
Why Afrocentric Facial Feature Bias is a Pernicious Form of Racism
Mark W. Bennett, Director, Institute for Justice Reform and Innovation

Bennett currently has a grant pending before the National Science Foundation for a multi-dimensional national empirical study of Afrocentric facial feature (AFF) bias in both the criminal and civil justice systems. AFF bias is a little understood and understudied form of both systemic and individual racism. Bennett will look at both judicial and juror decision making when parties with varying degrees of Afrocentric facial features are involved. Approved for 1 hour Iowa CLE credit, Activity code 354044

Friday, Oct. 16
The U.S. Supreme Court and Systemic Racism
Mark Kende, Director, Drake Constitutional Law Center, James Madison Chair in Constitutional Law, and Professor of Law

Kende will discuss how the U.S. Supreme Court has generally refused to acknowledge the existence of systemic racism in several constitutional cases, and how the Court's approaches make it difficult for racial minorities to achieve equality. Approved for 1 hour CLE, Activity code 354043

Friday, Oct. 23
Fair Cross-Section Jury Trial Reform
Russell Lovell and David Walker, Professors Emeriti of Law, Drake Law School

Lovell and Walker will examine the Iowa Supreme Court's landmark 2017 decision of State v. Plain and its three 2019 post-Plain decisions that reinforced defendants' rights to jury pools and jury panels that reflect a fair cross-section (FCS) of the community. Approved for 1 hour CLE, Activity code 354040

Friday, Nov. 6
Environmental Justice
Jerry L. Anderson, Dean of the Law School, and Richard M. and Anita Calkins Distinguished Professor of Law

Anderson will discuss the systemic barriers to reducing the environmental harms experienced by people of color. Approved for 1 hour CLE, Activity code 354041

Friday, Nov. 13
Institutional Racism and the Food We Eat
Jennifer Zwagerman, Director, Drake Agricultural Law Center

Zwagerman will discuss both the impact of institutional racism here in Iowa, and the history of racism in the United States Department of Agriculture, including several class action lawsuits filed by minority farmers. Approved for 1 hour CLE, Activity code 354038

Law Book Club

Fall 2020 How to be an Antiracist book club

Anti-Racism Education


The Iowa State Bar Association featured the event on the cover of its July 2020 magazine, The Iowa Lawyer.

Walk leaving the capitol
Arriving at A Monumental Journey
More people gathering at A Monumental Journey
Posed shot at A Monumental Journey
Another posed shot at A Monumental Journey

Know Your Rights

Free Webinar - Know Your Rights: Protests and Police

Racial Justice in America

This guide itself was part of the Drake Law School response. It was originally published on June 8, 2020 and will be updated on an ongoing basis. It inspired similar guides at Penn State Dickinson Law Library and St. John's Law Library and was recognized as the July 2020 Website of the Month by the Online Bibliographic Services SIS of the American Association of Law Libraries.

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