During the Fall 2020 semester, 15 students in Professor Franke's Columbia Law School and Slavery class have been researching projects on Columbia Law School’s relationship to slavery and its aftermath.
The students have pursued research topics such as whether any of our students or their families were slaveowners; whether any students fought in the Civil War and if so for which side; who were our first faculty and whether they bore any connection to the slavery or anti-slavery causes; where did the financing for the law school originate and were there any connections to the slave trade; did any lawyers trained at Columbia play a role in Fugitive Slave Act prosecutions; what relationship to enslaved labor, if any, did the buildings in which the law school has been housed hold; what was the law school’s first curriculum and how was constitutional law, property etc taught; and other topics.
The students will be presenting their findings on three consecutive Mondays (Nov 23, Nov 30 and Dec 7) in an online conference format. They will not only present their findings, but will make recommendations about how this material might be made accessible to students, faculty, administrators, and alums today. One student is even doing a TikTok video!