From the Equal Rights Amendment to Black Lives Matter: Reflecting on Intersectional Struggles for Equality

January 29, 2021

Sponsored by the Center for the Study of Race and Law and the Virginia Law Review.

Elaine Jones ’70, the Law School’s first Black alumna and the first woman to serve as president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, delivers the keynote address at UVA Law’s MLK Day symposium, “From the Equal Rights Amendment to Black Lives Matter: Reflecting on Intersectional Struggles for Equality.”

Symposium Description

The first Equal Rights Amendment was drafted by the National Women’s Party in 1921 to enshrine equality for women in the Constitution. Fifty-one years later, the Equal Rights Amendment won the requisite two-thirds vote in the House of Representatives and passed the Senate.  In 2020, Virginia became the thirty-eighth state to vote in favor of the ERA, but whether the ERA has accordingly been ratified remains politically and legally contested. 

Since 2013, Black Lives Matter has been a global social movement advocating against anti-Black racism and state-sanctioned violence, including but not limited to police brutality against Black men and women.  The movement has attracted broad participation by non-Black activists and lawmakers following the police murder of George Floyd.

This virtual law school symposium will explore the intersectional nature of race and sex (including LGBTQ+) equality movements, the contributions of activists with intersectional identities, and the potential role of intersectional theories to inform future efforts to advance race and sex equality. The symposium will culminate in a keynote speech by Elaine R. Jones at 1:45 p.m., the first Black woman to graduate from UVA Law School—fifty years ago — and the first Black woman to serve as Director-Counsel and President of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF). During the event, the 2021 Gregory H. Swanson Award will be presented.  Named after UVA’s first Black student, the award recognizes UVA law students who demonstrate courage, perseverance and a commitment to justice.