Anti-Chinese Racism at Berkeley: The Case for Renaming Boalt Hall

25 Asian Am. L. J. 5 (2018)

17 Pages Posted: 10 May 2017 Last revised: 21 Sep 2018

Date Written: Sept. 10, 2018


Those familiar with UC Berkeley School of Law know its traditional name and the name of its primary classroom building - Boalt Hall. Yet few know much about the man who gave the law school its name. A close look at John Boalt’s legacy, however, calls out for a reexamination of the law school’s continued association with Boalt, given the contrast between UC Berkeley’s stated values and Boalt’s influential views that the Chinese were an unassimilable race that ought to be excluded from the United States. Boalt's racial theories were identical to John C. Calhoun's, whose name Yale University recently removed from a residential college on the grounds that Calhoun's principles and legacy are at odds with Yale's mission and values. Through his widely-circulated and virulently racist 1877 address "The Chinese Question" and his proposal for a plebiscite on further immigration, Boalt was instrumental in catalyzing support for the Chinese Exclusion Act.

Keywords: Berkeley Law, Boalt, renaming, Chinese Exclusion, anti-Asian racism, Chinese, Calhoun, Yale, California, discrimination, antidiscrimination, immigration, California history

Suggested Citation

Reichmann, Charles, Anti-Chinese Racism at Berkeley: The Case for Renaming Boalt Hall (Sept. 10, 2018). 25 Asian Am. L. J. 5 (2018), Available at SSRN: or

Charles Reichmann (Contact Author)

UC Berkeley School of Law ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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