Despite founding ideals of freedom and common civil rights, the United States has a long history of systemic racial disenfranchisement. Many forms of exclusion and control based on race have been enforced by American law, deeply affecting the lived experience of minority communities. The unequal treatment of diverse racial and ethnic populations endures today, continuing to challenge us to examine our practices and beliefs critically and to recommit ourselves to a more fair and equal society.

“Law and the Struggle for Racial Justice” highlights material in the Riesenfeld Center’s collections related to the Black American struggle for equal rights, as seen in historical cases, legislation, and the evolving aims and achievements of civil rights movements. The exhibit calls attention to historical exclusion, to moments of progress, and to ongoing obstacles faced by communities of color as they have sought racial justice. It is hoped that historical perspectives will stimulate further reflection on the scope of these challenges and help us to envision a future in which rights are fully and equally protected for all.

The Riesenfeld Center gratefully acknowledges the support of University of Minnesota Law School Dean Garry W. Jenkins and Associate Dean Joan S. Howland in the creation of this digital exhibit. The exhibit was curated by Ryan Greenwood and Patrick Graybill.

This exhibit was awarded the 2021 Publication Award by the Academic Law Libraries Special Interest Section of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL).