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Blackness as Delinquency discusses the role of “Blackness” in shaping the first juvenile court and the Black community’s response to the court’s jurisprudence.


Assistant Professor Cheryl Nelson Butler, a member of the SMU Dedman Law faculty since fall 2011, teaches in the areas of torts and critical race theory. Her most recent scholarship, Blackness as Delinquency, is set for publication in the spring 2013 issue of the Washington University Law Review. Butler’s article, discussed favorably on the Legal History Blog in February 2012, breaks new ground on two fronts. First, it considers the first juvenile court’s treatment of Black youth within the context of the heightened racial oppression immediately following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Plessy v. Ferguson. Second, this article recovers the lost story of the Black club movement’s response to race issues within the juvenile court movement.

Additional scholarship and presentations by Professor Butler include:

  • Accepted an invitation to publish a chapter, Kids, Sexuality and Race, in the forthcoming book Children, Sex, and the Law [draft title](Ellen Marrus, ed. NYU Press, under contract for publication in Fall 2012). The book chapter will also form the basis for a law review article addressing the impact of race and racism in shaping how the law treats child sexuality.
  • Selected for presentation of her work-in-progress, Kids For Sale, at the upcoming “ClassCrits V: From Madison to Zuccotti Park: Confronting Class and Reclaiming the American Dream” Legal Scholarship Conference at the University of Wisconsin Law School.
  • Selected for presentation of her article, Blackness As Delinquency at the upcoming Annual Meeting of the American Society for Legal History (ASLH), hosted by Washington University Law School and Saint Louis University School of Law.