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Professor Wendy Greene, The Director of the Center for Law, Policy & Social Action and Professor of Law at Drexel University, will share the story behind her title with us on November 15, 2023.
The daughter of American civil rights activists, Professor Doris “Wendy” Greene is a trailblazing U.S. anti-discrimination law scholar, teacher, and advocate who has devoted her professional life’s work to advancing racial, color, and gender equity in workplaces and beyond. Professor Greene’s legal scholarship and public advocacy, which explores how constructions of identity inform and constrain anti-discrimination law, have generated civil rights protections for victims of discrimination throughout the United States. A visionary, she is the architect of two new legal constructs recognized within anti-discrimination law theory and praxis: “misperception discrimination” and “grooming codes discrimination.” Her internationally recognized publications in these areas have shaped the enforcement stance of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), administrative law judges, federal courts, and civil rights organizations in civil rights cases. Recently, the 11th Circuit and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals endorsed Professor Greene’s published definition of race as a legal authority on the social construction of race and as a practicable definition for constitutional decision-making respectively.
Moreover, the definition of race she proposed in her 2008 article, “Title VII: What’s Hair (and Other Race-Based Characteristics) Got to Do with It?”, is being adopted in history-making state and federal legislation known as the C.R.O.W.N. Acts (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Acts): the first laws in the nation to expressly recognize race discrimination is inclusive of the discrimination African descendants’ encounter based upon their natural and protective hairstyles such as afros, twists, locs, and braids.
Teen Vogue, Now This News, and BBC World News have celebrated Professor Greene for her instrumental role in increasing public awareness around as well as securing legal redress for grooming codes discrimination—from serving as a legal advisor and expert in civil rights cases challenging natural hair discrimination, co-drafting federal and state level C.R.O.W.N. Acts, testifying in support of this legislation throughout the country, delivering public lectures around the world, to publishing seminal work which has informed, to date, every legal pronouncement in the U.S.—on municipal, state, and federal levels—that natural hair discrimination is race discrimination. One of the world’s leading legal experts on this global civil rights issue and founder of the #FreeTheHair campaign, she is currently writing her first book, #FreeTheHair: Locking Black Hair to Civil Rights Movements, under contract with the University of California, Berkeley Press.
Professor Greene’s work, frequently featured in news media, has also earned national awards. In 2014, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine named Greene one of 12 “Emerging Scholars.” In 2015, Professor Greene’s article, Categorically Black, White, or Wrong: “Misperception Discrimination” and the State of Title VII Protection, was conferred the Law and Society Association John Hope Franklin Prize celebrating exceptional scholarship in the field of race, racism, and the law. A dynamic teacher and scholar, she has inaugurated two Scholars in Residence programs at the University of California-Irvine School of Law’s Center on Law, Equality, and Race (CLEaR) in 2018 and at St. Thomas University School of Law (Miami) in 2014. Additionally, she has served as: a Scholar in Residence at Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law in 2015; the Frances Lewis Scholar in Residence at Washington and Lee University School of Law (Fall 2019); a Visiting Professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law (Spring 2019); and as a Visiting Professor at the University of Iowa and the University of Kentucky Colleges of Law.
Presently, Professor Greene is the first tenured African American woman on the Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law faculty. Prior to joining the Drexel Law faculty, she was a faculty member at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law (Birmingham, Alabama) from 2007-2012. At Cumberland, she likewise made institutional history as one of the youngest women and women of color to attain tenure and full professorship and earned multiple awards for excellence in teaching and scholarship. Professor Greene teaches several courses in the law school curriculum: Constitutional Law, Employment Law, Employment Discrimination, Equitable Remedies, Real Property and seminars on Race and American Law, Critical Race Theory, as well as Appearance and Grooming Codes Discrimination in the Workplace.
Professor Greene is regularly invited to educate diverse constituencies around the world on contemporary civil rights matters at the intersection of race, color, and gender. Since entering the legal academy in 2007, Greene has delivered over 100 professional presentations throughout the United States and in four continents while regularly providing legal commentary to media outlets such as The Washington Post and BBC Scotland News Radio. Also, as one of few U.S. legal academics engaged in the study of comparative slavery and race relations in the Americas and Caribbean, she has delivered: the Logan Lecture on the African Diaspora and/or Black History at Howard University; the Inaugural Black History Month Keynote Address at Washington and Lee University; the 2020 C. Clyde Ferguson, Jr. Lecture at Howard University School of Law; and the Opening Ceremony Keynote Address for Black History Month 2020 at McGill University Faculty of Law (Montreal, Quebec, Canada).
Deeply devoted to public and professional service, Professor Greene serves on the Editorial Board of the Race and Law Prof Blog. She is also a member of the Executive Boards of: the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Law Schools Sections on Constitutional Law, Employment Discrimination, Employment Law and Law and the Humanities; the Editorial Board of the Employee Rights and Employment Law Policy Journal housed at Chicago-Kent College of Law; and the Lutie Lytle Black Women Law Faculty Writing Workshop Program Planning Committee. Greene is a past chair of the AALS Section on Women in Legal Education and has previously served on the ACLU of Alabama Board of Directors, the 2015 American Society for Legal History Program Committee, the Birmingham Civil Rights Summer Voting Rights Series Steering Committee, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Human Rights Symposium Community Advisory Committee, the National Bar Association Law Professors Division Executive Committee, the National Chair’s Education Task Force for the National Black Law Students Association, and the Southeast/Southwest People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference Executive Committee.
A native of Columbia, South Carolina, Professor Greene is a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana (B.A. cum laude with Honors in English and a double-minor in African American Studies and Spanish); Tulane University School of Law (J.D.); and The George Washington University School of Law (LL.M.).