Critical Race Theory: New Strategies for Civil Rights in the New Millennium?

101 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2008

See all articles by Bernie D. Jones

Bernie D. Jones

Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts


The development of critical race theory points to a new direction taken by civil rights activists in the wake of civil rights setbacks in the 1970s and 1980s when official government policy no longer supported an expansive civil rights agenda. The United States Supreme Court began limiting and eviscerating precedents that once promised full equality for African Americans under the law. Critical race theorists who fought against this declension from civil rights began storytelling, in which they gave voice to the contemporary civil rights struggle. They explained the situation of "outsiders," people of color dispossessed by the law.

The Parts of this Article - civil rights litigation before the Supreme Court under Earl Warren and under Chief Justices Burger and Rehnquist, the breakup of the African American liberal coalition, the storytelling response, and protest - explain the development of critical race theory, its antecedents in the legal liberalism that enabled the civil rights movement, and its rejection of formalism on the Supreme Court. The critical race theorists had as their objective, ending exclusive reliance upon civil rights litigation, storytelling to broaden public consciousness of racism and discrimination under the law, and protest reminiscent of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

Suggested Citation

Jones, Bernie D., Critical Race Theory: New Strategies for Civil Rights in the New Millennium?. Harvard BlackLetter Law Journal, Vol. 18, p. 1, 2002. Available at SSRN:

Bernie D. Jones (Contact Author)

Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts ( email )

138 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02111
United States

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