Civil rights expert to speak at Ripon College Jan. 26

Richard T. Ford, a leading expert on civil rights and anti-discrimination law, will speak at Ripon College Thursday as part of Martin Luther King Jr. Week activities. The program will begin at 7 p.m. in Great Hall, Harwood Memorial Union.

Ford will look at the practical goals of civil rights. During the Jim Crow era, anti-racists agreed that the goal was to dismantle explicitly discriminatory practices and formally enforced segregation. But it wasn’t clear whether the ultimate goal was to achieve formal legal equality, economic equality or whether there was a more substantive commitment to social integration. With blatant discrimination on the wane, it’s become obvious that anti-racists don’t agree on the ultimate goal: mainstream liberals favor social integration, but black nationalists and some multiculturalists reject integration in favor of racial solidarity and cultural autonomy.

This lecture will look at conflict over the ultimate goals of the civil rights movement. Should we still strive for racial integration? Or can we now conclude that racial segregation is a result of innocent preferences for solidarity and community? There will be an examination of America’s racially segregated ghettos and scientifically designed housing projects.

Ford has distinguished himself as an insightful voice in the ongoing cultural dialogue involving race and multiculturalism. He is currently the George E. Osborne Professor of Law at Stanford Law School.

He has published regularly on the topics of civil rights, constitutional law, race relations and anti-discrimination law in Slate, Boston Review, San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Chronicle, as well as in several prestigious academic journals including Harvard Law Review and Stanford Law Review.