The John W. Hager Distinguished Lecture in Law

Michelle Alexander

Joint Appointment with the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University

Wednesday, March 6 - 6:00 PM
Reception - 5:30 PM
Allen Chapman Activity Center,
The University of Tulsa

"The New Jim Crow"

Michelle Alexander is a highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, advocate, and legal scholar who currently holds a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University. Prior to joining the Kirwan Institute, Professor Alexander was an Associate Professor of Law at Stanford Law School, where she directed the Civil Rights Clinics.

In 2005, she won a Soros Justice Fellowship, which supported the writing of her first book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (The New Press, 2010). The book is considered one of the top African American books of 2010 and it won the NAACP Image Award for "outstanding literary work of non-fiction." The book has been featured on national radio and television media outlets, including NPR, The Bill Moyers Journal, the Tavis Smiley Show, C-Span Washington Journal, among others.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness challenges the conventional wisdom that with the election of Barack Obama as president, our nation has “triumphed over race.” Jim Crow laws were wiped off the books decades ago, but today an astounding percentage of the African American community is warehoused in prisons or trapped in a permanent, second-class status, much like their grandparents before them who lived under an explicit system of racial control. Alexander argues that the sudden and dramatic mass incarceration of African American men, primarily through the War on Drugs, has created a new racial under caste – a group of people defined largely by race that is subject to legalized discrimination, scorn, and social exclusion.

The old forms of discrimination – discrimination in employment, housing, education, and public benefits; denial of the right to vote; and exclusion from jury service – are suddenly legal once you’re labeled a felon. She challenges the civil rights community, and all of us, to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.

Alexander’s current work reflects lessons learned in her previous career as a civil rights lawyer and advocate in both the private and non-profit sector. For several years, Professor Alexander served as the Director of the Racial Justice Project for the ACLU of Northern California, where she helped to lead a national campaign against racial profiling by law enforcement. While an associate at Saperstein, Goldstein, Demchak & Baller, she specialized in plaintiff-side class action lawsuits alleging race and gender discrimination.

Professor Alexander is a graduate of Stanford Law School and Vanderbilt University. Following law school, she clerked for Justice Harry A. Blackmun on the United States Supreme Court, and for Chief Judge Abner Mikva on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.


The Hager Lecture is an annual event held in memory of former TU law professor John W. Hager to bring eminent professionals to the Tulsa legal community to share their ideas on law and justice.  Hager served on the TU Law faculty for more than 40 years and is still remembered at the law school as the "King of Torts." 

This event is free and open to the community. 

Please note: Due to simultaneous campus events, parking may be limited. 

For more information, please contact Barbette Veit at 918.631.5604 or barbette-veit@utulsa.edu.