Aoki Center/HistoryDepartment Collaboration - The Free People of Color Lecture Series: Paul Finkleman "The First Civil Rights Movement: Emancipation, Manumission, and Black Rights in the Age of Revolution, 1770-1827"

Dr. Paul Finkelman, President of Gratz College "The First Civil Rights Movement: Emancipation, Manumission, and Black Rights in the Age of Revolution, 1770-1827" Understanding the rights and liberties of free blacks in the United States, and later of other people of color, starts with the dismantling of slavery in the era of the American Revolution. As long as blacks were slaves, the only meaningful debate over their rights concerned limitations on certain barbaric punishments, such as mutilation or intentionally murdering slaves. Otherwise, blacks held in bondage had no legal rights. As blacks became free, however, the law had to deal with their new status. Paul Finkelman received his B.A. in American Studies from Syracuse University in 1971 and his Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago in 1976. He was later a Fellow in Law and Humanities at Harvard Law School. He has held a number of endowed chairs as a tenured professor or as a visitor, including the Ariel F. Sallows Chair in Human Rights Law at the University of Saskatchewan, the John Hope Franklin Chair in American Legal History at Duke Law School, and the President William McKinley Distinguished Professor at Albany Law School. In 2017 he held the Fulbright Chair in Human Rights and Social Justice at the University of Ottawa School of Law, in Ottawa, Canada and was also the John E. Murray Visiting Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He is the author of more than 200 scholarly articles and the author or editor of more than fifty books. His most recent book, Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court, was published by Harvard University Press in 2018. He has published in a wide variety of areas including American Jewish history, American legal history, constitutional law, and legal issues surrounding baseball. His work has been cited in five decisions by the United States Supreme Court. Most recently Justice Ginsburg quoted him in her unanimous decision in Tims v. Indiana. He has been quoted in numerous other courts, and in many appellate briefs. He has lectured on slavery, human trafficking, and human rights issue at the United Nations, throughout the United States, and in more than a dozen other countries, including China, Germany, Israel, and Japan. In 2014, he was ranked as the fifth most cited legal historian in American legal scholarship in Brian Leiter’s “Top Ten Law Faculty Scholarly Impact, 2009-2013.” He was an expert witness in the famous Alabama Ten Commandments Monument Case (Glassroth v. Moore) and in the lawsuit over the ownership of Barry Bonds’ 73rd home run ball (Popov v. Hayashi). The Free People of Color Lecture Series is hosted by the Aoki Center at King Hall and the UC Davis Department of History to explore the rights of people of color in the United States following the Civil War and inquire how that history continues to shape our thinking today.