VOLUME 169, ISSUE 7 Special Issue - originally printed in Penn Law Review Online Vol. 169


It is a moment of racial reckoning. It is not the first, it will not be the last, and it assures no restitution. But it is, nonetheless, a moment. As befits such moments, assorted conversations are occurring about the significance of race in American life and how to meaningfully improve Black lives. These conversations—debates might be the more accurate noun—have inspired calls for recompense and broad structural reforms. The Black Lives Matter movement, for example, advocates for reparations, police defunding, education reform, and a restructured political economy.
The Civil War ended in the spring of 1865 and attention promptly turned to escalating the process of reconstructing the South. Reconstruction, which involved dismantling the planter-dominated slaveocracies and turning these political communities into multiracial, egalitarian societies centered around civil and political rights, fundamentally changed the nature of our system of federalism, as well as the universe of rights to which individuals were now entitled.
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