Press Release: Columbia and UCLA Law School Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw Honored With Honorary Degree From York University

Media Contact:
G’Ra Asim
Writing Director, African American Policy Forum/Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies
g’ra.asim@aapf.org
African American Policy Forum/Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies

Photo Credit: York University

Photo Credit: York University

TORONTO, CANADA -- June 21, 2019 

The African American Policy Forum (AAPF) and the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies (CISPS) are pleased to announce that Kimberlé Crenshaw was awarded an honorary doctorate from York University with the Class of 2019 alongside fellow honorands Paul Alofs, Glendon Campus, Anne C. Fools, Jennifer Doudna, Paul Gross, Cheryl McEwen, Marangu Njogu, Marcie Ponte, and Lynn Posluns. The ten honorary degree recipients were recognized as outstanding contributors in community building, social justice, health research and philanthropy.

York University honorary degrees are awarded to those who have achieved eminence in their field of activity, provided extraordinary service to humankind, Canada, Ontario, York University or a particular community, and/or made public contributions to society worthy of emulation. “[The 2019 honorary degree recipients] are leading the way on social justice and human rights issues" said Rhonda L. Lenton, president and vice-chancellor of York University. "[T]heir achievements serve as an inspiration for York’s newest graduates and for all of us.”

Osgoode Hall Law School Interim Dean Mary Condon made the following announcement to the York community: 

I am delighted to announce that the recipient of this year’s honorary doctorate to be awarded at the June convocation ceremony is Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw.  Professor Crenshaw is Professor of Law at UCLA Law and Columbia Law School and a leading scholar and thought leader in the areas of civil rights, black feminist legal theory, and race, racism and the law. Her work has been foundational in two fields of study that have come to be known by terms that she coined: Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality.

Crenshaw directs Columbia Law’s Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies, which she founded in 2011. She is also co-founder and executive director of the African American Policy Forum, a think tank that promotes efforts to dismantle structural inequality.  York University’s honor is a reflection of Crenshaw’s life long work to uplift and center the needs of those most marginalized within our society and amongst social justice movements.

Crenshaw cultivates public literacy on forms of social difference and their relationship to the law by way of her column in The New Republic “The Intersectionist”, hosting the AAPF’s podcast Intersectionality Matters with Kimberlé Crenshaw and her forthcoming book On Intersectionality: Essential Writings. This winter also saw the release of Seeing Race Again: Countering Colorblindness Across the Disciplines, a volume Crenshaw co-edited challenging the adoption of racial colorblindness as a default position. 

Reflecting on her own graduation from law school, Crenshaw implored the Osgoode Hall Law Class of 2019 to challenge received wisdom, and to embrace skepticism as an intellectually generative stance:

Sitting there with my cap and gown, long before Critical Race Theory, the school of thought with which I would be an early adherent would fully emerge out of that Alternative Course, and long before a further turn in that intellectual ecosystem where intersectionality would find its way into the pages of a law review, I can only remember how driven I was by the many unresolved questions that my time in law school had set for me -- questions not only about how the law can be managed and mobilized to enhance social justice, but also how its role in facilitating and insulating myriad injustices could be reconciled with all the faith that so many disaffected communities had put into it.  Why did so many of us accept its limits simply because someone said “the law said so.” The law could say different things at any moment, and frequently did. So why should any of us settled for the “because I said so” claims?

Crenshaw’s convocation remarks were met with a standing ovation and generous applause by fellow graduates, York University faculty, and guests alike last week. The honorary Doctor of Laws was bestowed during York’s convocation ceremony at the Aviva Centre in Toronto on Friday, June 21, 2019 at 3:30pm. 

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The African American Policy Forum (AAPF) is a social justice think tank that brings new voices and broader frames to social justice practice in contemporary America. In partnership with the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies, AAPF promotes an intersectional approach to confronting discrimination in order to address the complex needs of marginalized communities. Through public education, youth development, research, trainings, and advocacy, AAPF has elevated the experiences of underrepresented constituencies to enable a more inclusive vision of social justice. 

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