"Race, Poverty & Democracy Speaker Series" is Relevant, Mission Focused

We live in turbulent times. Democracy, poverty, and racism have been at the center of everyday life and at the forefront of national events. Our School of Law's pursuit of justice, understanding, human dignity, and respect is at the center of our mission and vision. Therefore, this past year we offered the "Race, Poverty & Democracy Speaker Series"-including sessions with CLE credits-to discuss, examine, and confront racial injustice.


This series, organized by Richard Heppner, assistant professor of law, and Samantha Coyne, CLE manager, was held throughout the academic year. The inaugural series began in the fall 2020 semester, with Duquesne faculty leading sessions that examined the "Historical Overview of Race and Voting in the United States," and "Discrimination and Voting Rights in America," and "Hate in America: Anti-Semitism, Misogyny, and Racism."


Pivoting at the start of the spring semester with current events, "Legal Implications of the Attack on the Capitol - a Faculty Roundtable" was added. The event's purpose was to lend understanding to how-spurred by false claims of a rigged election and the pervasive effects of social media-the January 6 attack on democracy could happen.


This spring also encompassed sessions on "The Civil Rights Movement and the Constitution," "Prohibition's Surprising Role in the Regulation of Modern Police," and most recently "Police Dogs: Problems of Violence and Racism."


Upcoming in the series is "Human Trafficking in Your Neighborhood," a CLE to be co-presented with The Villanova Law Institute to Address Commercial Sexual and Exploitation on March 27. It will explore Federal and State trafficking law, along with the vital importance of trauma informed lawyering's role in representing trafficking victims. Register here to attend.


The impetus for this series was the historical and tumultuous events occurring in 2020 and the desire to lend intellectual context and understanding to them.


Heppner said, "Last year-as the country conducted a contentious election and confronted the history of racial discrimination and white supremacy-the faculty, staff, and administration wanted to gather the greater Duquesne Law School community, despite the pandemic, to discuss the unique historical moment that was 2020. We planned a series of virtual events, including lectures, roundtables, and continuing-legal-education programs, where professors could share their insights and scholarly perspectives about how concerns about race, poverty, and democracy intersect and inform United States legal history and doctrine."


The School of Law will continue to offer informative CLEs and Heppner is hoping a similar series to this one will persist next year, as it has brought wisdom, discourse, and current and historical perspective to the law's role in democracy. Anyone interested in Duquesne Law’s CLE programs can contact Samantha Coyne at coynes1@duq.edu for more information.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University's academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim. 

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