On March 21-24, 2019, University of Colorado Law School Professor Suzette Malveaux and Associate Professor Craig Konnoth attended the Fourth National People of Color (NPOC) Legal Scholarship Conference, the largest gathering of legal scholars of color in history. Approximately 600 law professors and scholars from across the United States and abroad discussed pressing legal issues and cutting edge ideas at the American University Washington College of Law, in the nation’s capital. The 2019 theme, “People of Color and the Future of Democracy,” featured over 80 panels and colloquia, including nationally prominent figures in law, legal education, and policymaking.
Colorado Law played a leadership role in this historic event. The school was a silver sponsor and Malveaux, Provost Professor of Civil Rights Law and Director of the Byron R. White Center for the Study of American Constitutional Law, served on the conference’s National Advisory Committee.
Malveaux and Konnoth presented their current scholarship and commented on the works of others. More specifically, Malveaux, along with professors from Boston University and Stanford, spoke on the panel “Critical Perspectives on Procedure.” The panel focused on values, such as access to justice and democracy, underlying civil procedure that are currently being threatened.
“Civil procedure is underrecognized as a civil rights issue. Procedural rights and access to the courts are critical to substantive rights. If we don’t have access to the courts, nothing else matters,” Malveaux shared. Excerpts from the panel will be published on the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review blog. View a recording of the panel here.
Konnoth presented his work-in-progress “Medicalization and the New Civil Rights.” He also moderated the panel “Rethinking LGBTQ Rights Across Race and Borders,” which included scholars from American, Northern Kentucky, UC-Irvine, Pace, and University of Nevada Las Vegas.
One of the goals of the conference is mentorship and support. In that vein, Malveaux commented on the work of a junior scholar. Konnoth participated on a panel giving advice to professors of color going on the market in academia, or for those looking to go on the market.
The conference was an inspiring and empowering opportunity. Keynote speakers included Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD); Gold Star Father Khizr Khan, Esq.; former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell; Jerry Kang, UCLA Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defence Fund; National Book Award Winner Ibram Kendi; Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; the Hon. Catherine Lhamon, Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; and Thomas Saenz, President and General Counsel, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.