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About the Center

Our Founding

We feel the urgency to begin this work at a time in which the university, like many others, is under severe financial constraints. We begin nonetheless. And with seed funding from Provost Peggy Agouris and Law School Dean Benjamin Spencer, we are starting: to leverage the talents and energy of faculty and students across campus to organize meaningful programs and events; to bring together multidisciplinary research teams to address social challenges; to partner with faculty who are already engaged in this work, amplifying and supporting their efforts; and to reach out to our broader community of alumni and others who also feel called to this work.

Our Mission

The Center for Racial & Social Justice will work to advance the cause of racial and social justice by educating students and the broader community, building students’ capacity to engage in antiracist and social justice work, and engaging in legal and multidisciplinary research and advocacy aimed to inform the public, advocates, and policymakers — both in the Commonwealth of Virginia and nationwide.

Student & Community Education

The Center will sponsor conferences and symposia — always open to the whole campus community and the public — that will gather experts from across the country to share their knowledge and discuss strategies for law reform in the interest of bringing about racial and social justice. It will also host a regular lecture series, recruiting to campus experts and leading figures with a wide range of experiences and perspectives. Learn about Programs & Events.

Research & Advocacy

The Center will conduct and disseminate primary research that will advance our understanding of social justice issues and support the efforts of policymakers to shape the law and public policy in a way that promotes racial and social justice. The research will focus on a multidisciplinary approach to addressing our most pressing social justice and equity challenges, including issues surrounding criminal justice, policing, voting rights, civil rights, housing policy, immigration policy, and access to justice, among many others. The Center will also feature and promote the research in which W&M faculty engage.

Student Development & Success

The Center will support first-generation students, underrepresented students, students of color, and students interested in researching and working to advance social justice through the Social Justice Graduate Fellows Program. The Program brings together graduate students from across the disciplines in a community to support and promote research in the area of social justice. It pairs students with William & Mary faculty mentors with expertise in their areas of interest. It will also help interested students partner with firms and nonprofit organizations engaged in social justice litigation.

The Center will also support the Law School Leadership Institute, which identifies a diverse group of first-year law students and provides a year-long program designed to equip them to become leaders early in their legal careers. 

CRSJ Staff in the News

CRSJ Director, Vivian Hamilton, was recently quoted on the Website 19thNews.Org for her remarks about a new bill introduced in Mississippi that would ease restrictions for divorce. 

In addition, recently CRSJ Staff-member and associate professor in the School of Education, Jamel K. Donnor, was recently named among the top 200 university-based scholars who have had the biggest influence on educational practice and policy over the previous year.