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An Open Letter from Vanderbilt Law Review

June 4, 2020

To Our Members, Contributors, Readers, and the Vanderbilt Law School Community:

Like all of you, we have intently watched the events that have unfolded these past few weeks, deeply saddened and angered by the persistent violence perpetrated against Black people and communities. While the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have captured our collective attention, there have been countless other Black lives whose unjust murders burden our souls with inescapable grief. We are in mourning.

We recognize that many members of our Editorial Board come from positions of privilege, whether due to race or gender or wealth. Yet, privilege should never insulate us from the problems afflicting our classmates and community. We should never react to uncomfortable realities with ignorance and complacency, but rather with self-reflection and change. It is unfair to ask our Black classmates and the greater Black community to carry the burden of combating systemic racism alone. We must engage in dialogue, support one another, and push for proactive and continual change.

We acknowledge that, as a forum for legal scholarship, the Law Review is in many ways intertwined with systems that perpetuate structural and institutional racism. The striking under-representation of Black scholars within our membership further contributes to the lack of diversity within the legal industry, given that Law Review membership helps open doors to particular private and public legal careers, clerkships, academia, and judicial appointments. The lack of Black voices, in both our ranks and our publication, is a reality that we refuse to accept as permanent.

We have much work to do. The Law Review is committed to implementing the required changes to confront systemic racism, promote justice, and generate lasting change. Our action plan focuses on how we can improve our allyship at Vanderbilt Law School and beyond. The first phase of this plan commits to:

  1. Continue working to reform our selection process to diversify our membership.
  2. Actively solicit Black scholarship for publication.
  3. Form a committee dedicated to diversity and inclusion.
  4. Engage with the Nashville community through activism dedicated to confronting systemic racism,including a donation drive, letter-writing campaign, and volunteering with local organizations.
  5. Promote education and action by providing our members with resources, such as books, films, podcasts, and online sources.

We believe Black lives matter. We stand with our Black classmates, friends, and fellow members of the legal community in denouncing white supremacy, police brutality, and racial injustice. We have the power, opportunity, and influence to make a change—both as an institution and as individuals. We are actively working to educate ourselves on how to become better allies and advocates, and we welcome any feedback or ideas on how we can best support Black communities and voices. The Vanderbilt Law Review is dedicated to the fight against systemic racism and sincerely looks forward to continuing this conversation now and for years to come.


Madeleine H. Carpenter            Emily C. Sheffield                   Nathan T. Campbell   

       Editor in Chief                       Executive Editor                   Senior Articles Editor

        Alicia F. Hoke                     Christina M. Claxton                Shivam M. Bhakta

   Senior Notes Editor            Senior Managing Editor           Senior En Banc Editor


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