Poetry as Evidence
Gregory Scott Parks
Wake Forest University School of Law
University of Maryland
February 27, 2012
While names like Charles Hamilton Houston (architect of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund strategy to end school segregation), Rosa Parks (mother of the Civil Rights Movement), Earl B. Dickerson (civil rights lawyer and first black University of Chicago Law School graduate), Sadie Alexander (first African American woman to earn a PhD, and first to earn a JD from the University of Pennsylvania), and William Hastie (first African American federal judge) resonate in the hearts and minds of those interested in or knowledgeable about civil rights icons or blacks in the legal profession, little is known amongst majority culture about the fraternal networks that sustained, propelled, and organized such individuals. In light of the unique history and organizational structure of these organizations, we analyze a peculiar aspect of black fraternal life — violent, initiatory hazing. While violent hazing has been an enduring aspect of black, fraternal culture, poetry — often aimed at buoying the spirits of pledges — has taken a central role in that culture. Herein, we explore the evidential value of poetry in tort cases that deal with facts around black fraternity and sorority hazing.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 52
Keywords: Race, Evidence, Torts, Humanities, Empirical Legal Studies
JEL Classification: K13
Date posted: February 27, 2012 ; Last revised: August 14, 2012
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