Ric Sheffield is Professor of Legal Studies and Sociology at Kenyon College. In addition to having served as Associate Provost of the College, he is the Director of Kenyon’s Law & Society Program and the John Adams Summer Scholars Program in Socio-legal Studies. His research has focused upon the relationship between law and issues of gender, race, and ethnicity. He has lectured widely on issued of race and law as well as African Americans in rural Ohio.
A Job Well… (not yet) Done: A Time to Remember Dr. King and the Nation’s Incomplete Civil Rights Legacy
In the year that this nation oddly commemorates the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it is time to reflect upon the promises made and not yet kept in the name of civil rights and social justice. This talk is intended to remind the audience that there were, in fact, lessons learned from the hard work of many good persons who were committed to making this nation become the bastion of freedom that it claims to be. It is important to recognize in this great country of plenty that the job is not yet done and that we all have a role to play.
Disenfranchising Darkies: Profiling the Vote in Reconstruction Ohio
The right to vote, long hailed as the embodiment, sine qua non, of liberty in American society has special historical significance for persons of African descent in the United States and Ohio, in particular. It was the quest for this quintessential right of citizenship, perhaps even more so than ethereal notions of equality generally, that undergirds some of the most significant episodes in the annals of America’s civil rights struggle. In weighing the often-dire consequences of resistance against the potential gains thought to reside in the elective franchise, Black Americans, even in Ohio, literally risked life, limb, and livelihood to claim their places at the polls.
The Community Within: Discovering African American History in Rural Ohio
Many rural areas in Ohio have long-established black communities that are often invisible to the larger white communities in which they reside. This program relates the adventure of reclaiming the lost history of African Americans in Knox County, Ohio while explaining the benefits of including minority populations within celebrations of heritage and sharing strategies for undertaking such projects in communities of various sizes and racial and ethnic makeups.
In the Wake of Brown: The Color of Classrooms in Rural Ohio
When this nation celebrated a recent anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, many acknowledged that it was one of the most important decisions about race in the nation’s history. Few, however, saw that the case also had relevance to the lives of black people residing in rural Ohio. Nearly all of the scholarship and social commentary have focused upon Brown’s impact upon the lives of black and white school children in the South and the urban North. This program examines the effect of Brown upon the educational experiences of African American children in the rural towns and villages of America’s heartland, using Knox County, Ohio, as the case study.
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