Poetry as Evidence

UC Irvine Law Review, 2013

42 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2012 Last revised: 1 Aug 2017

Gregory Scott Parks

Wake Forest University - School of Law

Rashawn Ray

University of Maryland

Date Written: 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.

Keywords: Race, Evidence, Torts, Humanities, Empirical Legal Studies

JEL Classification: K13

Suggested Citation

Parks, Gregory Scott and Ray, Rashawn, Poetry as Evidence (February 27, 2012). UC Irvine Law Review, 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2011627 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2011627

Gregory Scott Parks (Contact Author)

Wake Forest University - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 7206
Winston-Salem, NC 27109
United States
3367582170 (Phone)

Rashawn Ray

University of Maryland

College Park
College Park, MD 20742
United States

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