Olivia Castor

Olivia Castor

Social Studies

"Litigation, Activism, and Tension in the Movement for Black Lives"

In moments of political agitation around core issues of racial equality like the civil rights movement, there is always a legal activist component which is often overlooked in analyses of the strategies employed during these movements. Many are quick to reference abstractions such as “civil rights law”, “racial equality”, and “legal rights,” yet fail to devote adequate attention to the historical specificity of contestation within these domains, including numerous opinions on how to conceive of, and achieve progress toward, ideals of racial justice through the law. My research will seek to shed light on this topic by examining these moments of difference within the current Movement for Black Lives. I will be focusing on how organizations that are currently doing litigation in areas that the Movement for Black Lives has called attention to– namely mass incarceration, policing, and LGBTQ rights– have navigated this new explosion in activism. More specifically, I will be trying to understand how these lawyers navigate moments of tension when their conception of the problem, and its correct solution, differ from those of the activists, while also being cognizant of the fact that their definition is what may become case law.