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Continuing Opportunities for Community: A Message from Dean

June 15, 2020

Dear Law School community members,

Earlier this month, I sent you a message describing some of the immediate actions the Law School will take to work internally and externally against anti-Black violence and racism and to promote meaningful change toward a more just reality. Today, I write to share some concrete updates on the coming weeks even as our institutional efforts on many other fronts continue. There is much more we must do, including at the Law School, and we will report regularly on our progress.

Convening Community:
On Friday, June 5, 2020, nearly 200 of us gathered to pay our respects to George Floyd and the countless others whose lives have been lost to anti-Black violence. You can see a recording of our community vigil here.

On this Friday, June 19, 2020, our community will commemorate Juneteenth, a celebration of the day in 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, that news of their freedom reached all enslaved African Americans in this country. This is a landmark date in our nation’s history, and Penn Law will observe Juneteenth by pausing our normal operations, so that our community can take a much needed moment to reflect, celebrate, learn, and connect. Many in our community have long appreciated and celebrated this important date. Others may be inspired to learn more (you can start by reviewing our library’s growing Anti-Racism Resources list). As a law school, we take seriously our responsibility to acknowledge the role that our nation’s Constitution and laws played in the enslavement of African Americans and in the entrenchment of white supremacy, and consider it vital to recognize that history and the significance of Juneteenth as we work as a community to eradicate systemic racism.

Leading Conversation:
The Law School will convene a year-long colloquium, Achieving Racial Justice, beginning with a summer series focused on policing. This summer series, A Path for Change: Policing in America, will be hosted by our Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice, in partnership with the Office of Inclusion & Engagement and the Toll Public Interest Center’s Social Justice Programs. It will bring together leading scholars, practitioners, and activists to reimagine the criminal justice system.
Please join us for our first two events:

  • Wednesday, June 24, 6:30pm – 8:00pm: Beyond Reform: Reenvisioning the Role of Police, a conversation with Amna Akbar (Ohio State Law School), Monica Bell (Yale Law School), and Jocelyn Simonson (Brooklyn Law School), moderated by Dorothy Roberts (Penn Law School).
  • Wednesday, July 8, 6:30pm – 8:00pm: Structural Frustrations: Challenges to Implementing Change, a conversation with Everett Gillison (Former Managing Director, City of Philadelphia), Anjelica Hendricks (Drexel Law, and Philadelphia Police Advisory Commission), Charles Ramsey (Former Commissioner, Philadelphia Police Department), and Sozi Tulante (Dechert, and Former Philadelphia City Solicitor).

These are the first of many initiatives that we will be implementing this summer, this year, and beyond. Together, we will not only explore the possibility of more just systems, society, and institutions including our own, we will redouble our shared efforts to actualize them.


Ted Ruger
Dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law