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.
There Are Lessons of Slavery yet to Be Learned: Why the 13th Amendment Remains Relevant in the 21st Century US and Beyond
In the little more than a decade that has passed since Congress passed the law to officially commemorate the signing of the US Constitution, the 13th Amendment rarely has been the focus of Constitution Day speeches and celebrations. Constitutional scholars and lecturers tend to emphasize the provisions that traditionally are thought to provide a guidepost and set of principals by which Americans can and should conduct their civil lives in a nation that seeks to demonstrate its commitment to the rule of law. Yet, it is all too easy to forget how the lessons of slavery and the promise of emancipation remain important in the contemporary lives of many Americans one hundred and fifty years later.
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.
Law Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry: Some Thoughts about Law, Apology, and Community Forgiveness
While it is rare for the law expressly to require apologies from participants in the American legal process, the failure of persons found guilty of causing harm to others to apologize for their wrongdoing has serious consequences. This program examines the uneasy “love story” between law and apology, as well as the circumstances and ways in which society expresses forgiveness towards those who have legally transgressed.
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