Monday, March 20, 2023

On March 3, the Liberty University Law Review hosted their 2023 symposium entitled, “Bridging the Racial Divide: Race, History, Law, and Reconciliation.” This year’s event focused on issues of race-based discrimination, racial equality, and ways to approach reconciliation between the nation’s troubled past and a present dedicated toward progress.

Each year, the Liberty University Law Review, an academic legal journal run by second and third-year law students, hosts an annual symposium featuring speakers and writers who discuss a pressing issue of law or society. The Law Review’s editorial board begins planning each symposium nearly a year before each event.

Almost 300 people attended the event in the School of Law’s Supreme Courtroom to hear four speakers take the stage with unique discussions on the intersection of law, race, and Christianity.

Brandon Paradise, professor of law at Rutgers University whose scholarship focuses on law and theology and race and the law, was the first featured speaker. Paradise discussed the biblical foundations and legacy of the civil rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision for unity.

Our second speaker, the Honorable Rossie Alston, judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, spoke on racial prejudice and reconciliation, as well as how his time on the bench has shaped his approach to law and society.

Liberty Law’s own Cynthia Tompkins, a professor of law who teaches courses on criminal procedure and race and the law, spoke about the importance of discussing racial prejudices in the U.S. and the role the law can play in finding solutions.

Professor Rodney Chrisman of Liberty Law was the final featured speaker of the program. He remarked on the importance of delicacy and defining terms when addressing issues weighted with tragic histories.

Each of the speakers stressed the need for a biblical approach and the role of scripture plays in bridging the racial divide.

When asked why the Law Review chose this year’s topic, Kelvin Goodson, the Law Review’s Symposium editor, noted that “…the topic was so important because it is an issue that needs to be discussed but rarely is because people are often afraid of the stigmas involved in those discussions.” Goodson added, “It was important for Liberty to address this due to its unique mission of approaching topics from a biblical perspective, and race is not talked about enough in Christian circles.”

The Law Review’s editor-in-chief, Logan Blake, added to Goodson’s remarks noting that “[the Law Review] recognized the importance of race to students and in national conversation. It is an inherently moral issue that we, as a Christian law review, were in a unique position to address and inject the clarity of love and understanding. Difficult moral conversations on problems that have deeply harmed so many people are the bedrock on which we build toward real reconciliation. We hope that we at least added another stone.”

The Liberty University Law Review will publish an accompanying symposium issue, featuring articles by Tompkins and Chrisman, in the journal’s seventeenth volume later this spring. Volume Seventeen’s first issue is available for download on Liberty’s digital commons, as well as several legal databases.

For more information about the Liberty University Law Review, please visit our website.