Meeting the Moment

UCLA Law Magazine | Fall 2020

Meeting the Moment: 20 Years of Critical Race Studies at UCLA Law

As UCLA Law’s Critical Race Studies program celebrates 20 years, seven of our scholars take a close look at these challenging times.

In 2000, a group of UCLA School of Law professors, all scholarly leaders in the field of Critical Race Theory, gathered to form a first in legal education: an official, law school-based institutional program dedicated to advancing equality through the rigorous study of the intersection of race and the law.

Twenty years later, the Critical Race Studies (CRS) program remains unparalleled in legal education, is a key area of renown for UCLA Law, and ranks among our most popular centers of scholarship and specializations for students. Scores of future lawyers come to UCLA Law specifically to learn from our CRS leaders; more than a quarter of all students participate in the program and roughly 30 students graduate with certificates in the CRS specialization each year. Many advance to impactful careers as advocates and scholars focused on racial justice. 

A number of the CRS program’s founding faculty members also remain at UCLA Law, continuing their work and campaigns for change, and they have been joined by a next generation of professors who share new perspectives and traverse new avenues of study. Together, they are committed to delving into the legal and structural issues that create racial division in America and perpetuate centuries-old systems where people of color – Black, Latino, Native American and others – are denied fundamental equality and inclusion.

In these essays, we turn to seven esteemed CRS scholars: CRS co-founding faculty member and current faculty director Laura E. Gómez; Angela R. Riley and Joanna C. Schwartz, both of whom have been teaching at UCLA Law for more than a decade; as well as newer members of our law school faculty community, LaToya Baldwin Clark, Jennifer M. Chacón, Jonathan Glater and CRS program director Jasleen Kohli. Their diverse areas of expertise offer a broad set of vantage points from which to gauge this challenging moment in which the twin perils of the COVID-19 pandemic and systemic racism devastate minority communities across the country and cause consternation around the world.

Latoya Baldwin Clark

The COVID-19 crisis has presented a problem for parents and society: how to balance the need for childcare and promoting equality in education.