Symposium Speaker Biographies

Symposium Speakers

Friday, November 1, 2019

Written In Stone: American Monuments and Monument-Protection Laws


Sanford “Sandy” Levinson joined the University of Texas Law School faculty in 1980. Levinson is the author of approximately 400 articles, book reviews, or commentaries in professional and popular journals. He has also written six books including Written In Stone: Public Monuments in Changing Societies (Duke University Press, 2018) from which this symposium draws its title. He has been a visiting faculty member of the Boston University, Georgetown, Harvard, New York University, and Yale law schools in the United States and has taught abroad in programs of law in London; Paris; Jerusalem; Auckland, New Zealand; and Melbourne, Australia.

Vanessa Holden received her Ph.D. in African American and Women’s and Gender History from Rutgers University. She currently has a dual appointment in both the Department of History and African American and Africana Studies at the University of Kentucky. Her research focuses on African American women and slavery in the antebellum South, including but not limited to the participation and experiences of women before, during, and after the Southampton Rebellion of 1931 (Nat Turner’s Rebellion). Her areas of interest are the history resistance and rebellion, gender history, and the history of sex/sexuality. She offers courses in American History, African American History, and African American Studies.

Amy Murrell Taylor’s research focuses on the social and cultural history of the U.S. South in the 19th century. Her latest book, Embattled Freedom: Journeys through the Civil War’s Slave Refugee Camps (UNC Press, 2018), was awarded a number of prizes and awards, including the Merle Curti Social History Award and the Avery O. Craven Award, both from the Organization of American Historians, as well as the Tom Watson Brown Book Award from the Society of Civil War Historians. She previously examined families divided by national loyalties in The Divided Family in Civil War America (UNC Press, 2005). Taylor is the co-editor, with Stephen Berry, of the “UnCivil Wars” series with the University of Georgia Press, and she is involved in a variety of public history and historic preservation projects in central Kentucky.

Valeria Sinclair-Chapman joined the Purdue faculty as an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science.  Her work focuses on American political institutions, legislative politics, minority representation in Congress, and minority political participation.  Broadly construed, her research examines how previously marginalized groups gain inclusion in the American political system.  She is author or co-author of several journal articles and book chapters, as well as an award-winning book, Countervailing Forces in African-American Political Activism, 1973-1994 (Cambridge University Press, 2006).  Her current research projects examine how legislators represent the interests of racial and ethnic minorities in Congress at various stages of the legislative process.

Kathi Kern earned a Ph.D. in American history at the University of Pennsylvania where she was a Mellon Fellow in the Humanities and a winner of the Dean’s Award for distinguished teaching. Since 1989 she has been a member of the History Department at the University of Kentucky as well as an affiliated member of the Gender and Women’s Studies Program. Professor Kern’s research concerns gender, religion and the women’s rights movement in nineteenth-century America. Professor Kern is also actively engaged in research and service outreach to public school teachers. Since 2003, Dr. Kern has authored several successful grants funded through the Teaching American History Grant program of the US Department of Education with awards totaling nearly four million dollars. In these projects she has worked collaboratively with colleagues in the College of Education and the Kentucky Historical Society to create professional development programs for American history teachers in Eastern Kentucky.

Anastasia Curwood joined the University of Kentucky Department of History in 2014. A native of Cambridge, Massachusetts, she earned her undergraduate degree at Bryn Mawr College (PA) and her M.A. and Ph.D. in History from Princeton University. Her work has been recognized with fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, and the James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference at Emory University. Dr. Curwood’s scholarship focuses on the interface between private life and historical context for black Americans in the twentieth century. In particular, she studies the workings of gender in African Americans’ social, cultural/intellectual, and political history. Her first book explored marriages between middle-class African Americans in the era of the New Negro and the Great Depression.  Her current project is a critical biography of Congresswoman and Democratic candidate for United States president Shirley Chisholm.

Melynda Price is the William L. Matthews, Jr. Professor of Law and the Director of the Gaines Center for the Humanities. Professor Price is the author of At the Cross: Race, Religion and Citizenship in the Politics of the Death Penalty (Oxford University Press, 2015).  Her work has been published in both peer-reviewed social science and law journal, newspapers and literary journals. Professor Price joined the UK College of Law as an Assistant Professor in the fall of 2006 after completing the doctorate degree in Political Science from the University of Michigan. She also earned a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 2002.  Professor Price’s research focuses on race, gender and citizenship, the politics of punishment and the role of law in the politics of race and ethnicity in the U.S. and at its borders. In 2008, she was awarded a Ford Foundation Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship. Her host institution was the Capital Punishment Center at the University of Texas School of Law. In 2016, she was a fellow in the Program in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton University.

Judge Robert L. Wilkins served as the lead plaintiff in Wilkins, et al. v. State of Maryland, a landmark civil rights lawsuit that inspired nationwide legislative and executive reform of police stop-and-search practices and the collection of data regarding those practices during his tenure with the Public Defender Service and in private practice.  Judge Wilkins also played a key role in the establishment of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, serving as the Chairman of the Site and Building Committee of the Presidential Commission whose work led to the Congressional authorization of the museum and the selection of its location.  He authored Long Road to the Hard Truth:  The 100 Year Mission to Create the National Museum of African American History and Culture. As a practicing lawyer, he was named one of the “40 under 40 most successful young litigators in America” by the National Law Journal (2002) and one of the “90 Greatest Washington Lawyers of the Last 30 Years” by the Legal Times (2008). On December 27, 2010, Judge Wilkins was appointed United States District Judge for the District of Columbia, where he served until his appointment to the D.C. Circuit.

Richard “Rich” Schragger joined the University of Virginia School of Law faculty in 2001 and was named the Perre Bowen Professor in 2013. His scholarship focuses on the intersection of constitutional law and local government law, federalism, urban policy, and the constitutional and economic status of cities. He also writes about law and religion. Professor Schragger’s book, City Power: Urban Governance in a Global Age, was published by Oxford University Press in 2016.  Professor Schragger has authored articles on the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses, the role of cities in a federal system, local recognition of same-sex marriage, takings law and economic development, and the history of the anti-chain store movement published in the Harvard, Yale, Chicago, Virginia, and Michigan law reviews, among others. He teaches property, local government law, urban law and policy, and church and state.

Steve Clowney joined the University of Arkansas School of Law faculty in 2014. Before moving to Arkansas, he held the Frost Brown & Todd endowed professorship at the University of Kentucky. Professor Clowney teaches Property, Land Use, Trusts & Estates, and a seminar on Race & the Law. Prior to entering academia, Professor Clowney served as a Law Clerk in the Chambers of the Hon. Ruggero J. Aldisert, in Santa Barbara, California. He has also worked as a legal consultant in Hawaii, a college admissions officer, and a gravedigger. His main areas of research include zoning regulations, the history of cities, handwritten wills, and the presence of violence in informal property systems.

Zachary “Zack” Bray is the H. Wendell Cherry Associate Professor of Law at the University of Kentucky College of Law, where he has taught since 2016.  Prior to teaching at Kentucky, he worked at the University of Houston Law Center. Professor Bray’s research has addressed private land trusts, low-income housing, the Endangered Species Act, groundwater conflicts, and religious land use. In recent years, he has written about the “statue statutes” that protect Confederate monuments and the Antiquities Act that protects national monuments. A Lexington native, he worked for the Honorable Jennifer B. Coffman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky, for the Honorable Carolyn Dineen King of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and as an attorney in private practice before entering academia.

Jim Gray was the mayor of Lexington, Kentucky (Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government) from 2011-2019. Gray served as Lexington’s vice-mayor from 2006 to 2010 before being elected mayor in November 2010. Gray won re-election to another four-year term as Lexington’s mayor on November 4, 2014.  Prior to his election, Gray was Chairman and CEO of Gray Construction, a nationally ranked engineering, design, and construction company headquartered in Lexington.  Once elected, he took an advisory role as Chair of the Board of Directors to focus on his role as mayor.  Gray has also been recognized as a founding father and a fellow of the Design-Build Institute of America (“DBIA”), and he recently gave the convocation address at Transylvania University’s September 2019 Academic Convocation.

Martha S. Jones is the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and Professor of History at The Johns Hopkins University. She is a legal and cultural historian whose work examines how black Americans have shaped the story of American democracy. Her most recent book, Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in America (Cambridge University Press: 2018). Prior to the start of her academic career, she was a public interest litigator in New York City and was recognized for this work as a Charles H. Revson Fellow on the Future of the City of New York at Columbia University.Professor Jones is recognized as a public historian, frequently writing for broader audiences at outlets including the Washington Post, the AtlanticUSA TodayPublic Books, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Time, the curatorship of museum exhibitions including “Reframing the Color Line” and “Proclaiming Emancipation” in conjunction with the William L. Clements Library, and collaborations with the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, the Charles Wright Museum of African American History, the Southern Poverty Law Center, PBS, Netflix, and Arte (France).