MLK’s Constitutional Legacy

January 24, 2019


In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, this episode celebrates King’s life and work, his vision for America, and his fight to pass landmark civil rights laws and realize the promises of the Constitution. Civil rights and constitutional law experts Michael Klarman of Harvard Law and Theodore M. Shaw of UNC Law join host Lana Ulrich to explore King’s constitutional legacy, shed light on the relationship between litigation and activism, and contemplate whether the Civil Rights Movement would have happened without King.


An early transcript of the podcast is linked here. This text may not be in its final form, accuracy may vary, and it may be updated or revised in the future.


Michael Klarman is the Kirkland & Ellis Professor at Harvard Law School specializing in constitutional law and constitutional history. Klarman’s first book, From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Racial Equality received the 2005 Bancroft Prize in History.  His other books include: Brown v. Board of Education and the Civil Rights Movement and Unfinished Business: Racial Equality in American History.

Theodore M. Shaw is the Julius L. Chambers Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina School of Law, where he teaches civil procedure and advanced constitutional law/14th Amendment. He served as the fifth director-counsel and president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, where he worked for over 26 years. He was also formerly a visiting scholar at the National Constitution Center and co-wrote the Interactive Constitution explainer on the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

​​​​​​Lana Ulrich is the Director of Content, Constitutional Fellow, and Senior Counsel of the National Constitution Center, the only institution in America chartered by Congress “to disseminate information about the United States Constitution on a nonpartisan basis.” 

Additional Resources

Our Interactive Constitution is the leading digital resource about the debates and text behind the greatest vision of human freedom in history, the U.S. Constitution. Here, scholars from across the legal and philosophical spectrum interact with each other to explore the meaning of each provision of our founding document. 

The Equal Protection Clause by Brian Fitzpatrick and Theodore M. Shaw

This episode was engineered by David Stotz and produced by Jackie McDermott. Research was provided by Jackie McDermott.

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