Liberal McCarthyism and the Origins of Critical Race Theory
Iowa Law Review, Vol. 94, p. 1505, 2009
43 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2010
I wrote this piece exploring some of the intellectual origins of critical race theory for a 20-year anniversary of the movement held at the University of Iowa in April, 2009. In it, I look at the role of certain prominent university officers in purging their ranks of white radicals to prepare the way, in the late sixties and early seventies, for the first large group of post-Brown minority students who were starting to arrive around that time. I show how four promising white professors, two of law, one of history, and one of criminology lost their jobs and what they did afterward. I show that they continued to teach and write about left-wing thought in the hinterlands in ways that contributed to the rise of critical race theory. As they say, it is hard to kill an idea.
Keywords: Critical race theory, Marxism, McCarthyism, Academic freedom, Purges, Intellectual history, Left-wing movements, Radical thought, Critical legal studies, The sixties, Student protest
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