Owensboro, Ky. (March 10, 2016) – The Stanley Reed Pre-Law and Politics Society will host a presentation, “Constructing Racial Categories in the United States,” with Daniel J. Sharfstein, J.D., a professor of law and history and a Chancellor’s Faculty Fellow at the Vanderbilt University Law School, on Tuesday, March 29, at 7 p.m. in Rogers Hall at the Winchester Center. The event is free and open to the public. He is a graduate of Yale Law School and serves as co-director of the Social Justice Program at Vanderbilt.
Professor Sharfstein’s presentation will explore the formal legal processes and informal norms that have shaped the way Americans experience race. He says, “While racial categories such as ‘black’ and ‘white’ can seem obvious, inevitable, or natural, their boundaries and substantive content have shifted and changed throughout American history. From slavery to segregation to civil rights, courts and an increasingly powerful bureaucratic state claimed the definitive power to set and administer the rules of race. All the while, individuals and communities have continually pushed to make their own rules.”
He is the author of “The Invisible Line: A Secret History of Race in the United States,” winner of the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize for narrative nonfiction, the Willard Hurst Prize of the Law and Society Association, and the William Nelson Cromwell Book Prize from the American Society of Legal History. For his research on race, law, and the legacies of Reconstruction, he was named a 2013 Guggenheim Fellow, an Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer, and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow. He has been awarded the Hall-Hartman Outstanding Professor Award at Vanderbilt Law School twice.
Stanley Forman Reed (1884 – 1980), a 1902 graduate of Kentucky Wesleyan College, was a noted attorney who served as United States Solicitor General from 1935 – 1938 and as an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1938 – 1957. He was a native of Mason County, Ky.