Randall Kennedy in conversation with Christopher Edley, Jr.
Randall Kennedy is one the most outspoken and compelling commentators on race in America. Born in segregated South Carolina at the cusp of the Civil Rights Movement, Kennedy had early ambitions to become a Civil Rights attorney. The Rhodes Scholar graduated from Princeton University and then Yale Law School, earning a clerkship with Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall before joining the faculty of Harvard Law School.
Kennedy's work received national attention with the publication of his book Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word. In the book, Kennedy dissects the most notorious racial slur in the American language and also examines the linguistic baggage behind such words as "racism," "discrimination," and "diversity." His new book Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal explores the idea of African-Americans denying their heritage to get ahead in society. Kennedy is a longtime professor at Harvard Law School where he teaches courses on freedom of expression and the regulation of race relations- City Arts & Lectures
Christopher Edley Jr.
Christopher Edley, Jr. joined Boalt Hall as dean and professor of law in 2004, after 23 years as a professor at Harvard Law School. He earned a law degree and a master's degree in public policy from Harvard University, where he served as an editor and officer of the Harvard Law Review. Edley's academic work is primarily in the areas of civil rights and administrative law. He has also taught federalism, budget policy, Defense Department procurement law, national security law, and environmental law. Edley was co-founder of the Harvard Civil Rights Project, a renowned multidisciplinary research and policy think tank focused on issues of racial justice.
His publications include Not All Black and White: Affirmative Action, Race and American Values and Administrative Law: Rethinking Judicial Control of Bureaucracy.
Following graduation, Edley joined President Carter's administration as assistant director of the White House domestic policy staff, where his responsibilities included welfare reform, food stamps, child welfare, disability issues, and social security. He served as national issues director throughout the 1987-88 Dukakis presidential campaign, and then as a senior adviser on economic policy for President Bill Clinton's transition team in 1992. In the Clinton administration, he worked as associate director for economics and government at the White House Office of Management and Budget from 1993 to 1995. There, he oversaw a staff of 70 civil servants responsible for White House oversight of budget, legislative and management issues in five cabinet departments (Justice, Treasury, Transportation, Housing & Urban Development, Commerce) and a diverse group of over 40 autonomous agencies, including: FEMA, FCC, General Services Administration, SBA, SEC, CFTC, EEOC, the bank regulatory agencies, and the District of Columbia. In 1995 he was also special counsel to the President, directing the White House review of affirmative action. He later served the Clinton White House in 1997 as a consultant to the President's advisory board on the race initiative.
From 1999-2005, Edley served as a congressional appointee on the bipartisan U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In 2001, he was a member of the Carter-Ford National Commission on Federal Election Reform. He is currently a trustee of the Russell Sage Foundation and of The Century Foundation. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and the American Law Institute. He also serves on the executive committee of the advisory board for the Division on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education of the National Research Council, which is the research arm of the National Academies of Sciences. At UC Berkeley, he is founder and faculty-Co-Director of the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity, a multidisciplinary think tank.
Randall Kennedy is the Michael R. Klein Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where he teaches courses on contracts, criminal law, and the regulation of race relations. He served as a law clerk for Judge J. Skelly Wright of the U.S. Court of Appeals and for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a member of the bar of the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court. Awarded the 1998 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for Race, Crime, and the Law (1998), Kennedy writes for a wide range of scholarly and general interest publications. His most recent books are For Discrimination: Race, Affirmative Action, and the Law (2013) and The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency (2011). He is a member of the American Law Institute, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Association.