Mid-Atlantic People of Color Conference

Penn Law
Mid-Atlantic People of Color COnference

Mid-Atlantic People of Color Conference

President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: On Questions, Doubts, and the Problems of Full Citizenship

 18th Annual Mid-Atlantic People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference 2013

University of Pennsylvania Law School
Philadelphia, PA

January 24-26, 2013

Writing in 1963, William F. Ward asked: “Why didn’t … President [Kennedy]’s predecessors of Civil War days succeed in eliminating Jim Crow and why must Negroes still be fighting today to acquire the status of full citizenship?”  Ward’s question implies that President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, the civil war amendments, and the civil rights acts of 1866 represented a broader mandate to confer on former slaves at the very least the status of full citizenship that had been legally and constitutionally denied to them during more than 250 years of enslavement. If so, Ward was wrong because the Supreme Court effectively gutted the 14th amendment of its broadest implications, and in the ensuing years Jim Crow’s black codes laid waste to the new south and to burgeoning black aspirations, and some scholars have argued that the Second Reconstruction never completely imbued blacks and people of color with the broadest implications of full citizenship. Hence, despite the polemics of radical egalitarians, some debate whether blacks and other people of color have been cloaked with the vestiges of full citizenship.

What then is full citizenship?  Does full citizenship mean formal equality, or equal or relatively equal substantive outcomes? Unfortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court interpretation of the Constitution’s negative liberty limits an affirmative, positive definition of full citizen.  Yet, in light of today’s political-economic circumstances, highlighted especially by the 2008 housing and Wall Street collapse, we must ask:  is it the right to work?  Access to real, fair housing?  Is it the right to vote?  Is it the right to an affordable education?  Is it a school curriculum that embraces racial/ethnic differences?  Is it reproductive freedom?  Is it the right to union representation and the enforcement of union contracts?  Is it the right to be free from intrusive surveillance?

Does full citizenship apply to every citizen?  Our foregoing questions clearly imply that adult citizens can assert mandamus claims against local, state, and federal governments, or sue private entities, especially those that have been impressed with an important public interest.  Does it apply to children, especially when they are subject to state-sanctioned violence and intrusive policing? How does such violence and intrusions condition them for a diminished notion of full citizenship?  Are children, regardless of their race or ethnicity, entitled to minimum safeguards, so that they can thrive and become contributing citizens?  How does the deportation of immigrants whose children were born in the United States impact a child’s right to the love, tenderness, and support of their parents?

Do national security and border control measures make claims to the status of full citizenship weaker today because we as fully-endowed citizens tolerate, if not endorse, the policing and maltreatment of other citizens, immigrants, and children?

At MAPOC 2013, we’ll explore the furthest implications of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.  From the perspective of the meaning of full citizenship, we’re seeking papers and panel proposals on the following substantive but not exhaustive subjects:

— Lincoln’s Emancipation, Civil War Amendments, and its Contemporary Implications for Full Citizenship
— Race/Ethnicity/Gender and the Meaning of Full Citizenship
— Citizens, Children, and Immigrant Families
— Children Rights and the Limited Citizenship Status
—  Anti-Immigration and Civil Rights
—  Free Labor and Labor Rights
—  New Post-911 Surveillance, Deportation, and Immigrant Workers
— Politics of Killing Multicultural Education
— Modern State, National Security, and the Limits of Citizens’ Claims


This program has been approved for 8.0 hours of substantive law credit and 1.0 hour of ethics credit for Pennsylvania lawyers.  CLE credit may be available in other jurisdictions as well.  Attendees seeking CLE should bring separate payment ($90 fee, or $25 fee for public interest/non-profit attorneys) - cash or check- made payable to “The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania.”  If you are not attending the entire conference and are seeking CLE credit, the fee is $15 per credit hour.