Thursday, February 1, 2001

WRITER: Kathy R. Pharr, (706) 542-5172, pharr@arches.uga.edu

CONTACT: Kathy R. Pharr or Women Law Students Home Page for comprehensive information - http://www.lawsch.uga.edu/edith/


ATHENS, Ga. - Professor Dorothy Roberts of Northwestern University, whose influential scholarship focuses on the interplay of gender, race and class in legal issues concerning reproduction and motherhood, will present the 19th annual Edith House Lecture Thursday, February 15. Roberts' speech, "Missing Voices: Black Mothers and the Politics of Child Welfare," will be held at 3:30 p.m. in the law school auditorium and is open free to the public.

"One of the most striking aspects of the child welfare system is its racial disparity," says Roberts. "Black children make up almost half of the foster care population, although they are only 17 percent of the nation's youth. Of the many public voices critical of the system, rarely heard are those of Black mothers whose children have been placed in foster care. My lecture will look at the system from their perspective to explore the reasons for the racial disparity and why we should be concerned about it, and to challenge the current direction of child welfare policy."

Roberts joined the Northwestern University School of Law in 1998 with a joint appointment as a faculty fellow at the Institute for Policy Research. She is a frequent lecturer and prolific scholar on issues related to race, gender and the law, having published more than 50 articles and essays in books, scholarly journals, newspapers and magazines, including Harvard Law Review, Yale Law Journal, University of Chicago Law Review, Social Text, and The New York Times. Her influential article in the Harvard Law Review, "Punishing Drug Addicts Who Have Babies: Women of Color, Equality and the Right of Privacy," has been widely cited and is included in a number of anthologies. Roberts is the author of the 1997 book, Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction and the Meaning of Liberty, which received a 1998 Myers Center Award for the Study of Human Rights in North America, as well as the coauthor of casebooks on constitutional law and women and the law. Her next book, Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare, will be published by Basic Books in November 2001.

Roberts has been a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford, and was a fellow at Harvard University's Program in Ethics and the Professions. She serves as a consultant to the Center for Women Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. and as a member of the board of directors of the National Black Women's Health Project, the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, and the Public Interest Law Center of New Jersey. She received the Radcliffe Graduate Society Medal in 1998 and was selected by members of Northwestern's law class of 2000 as the outstanding first-year course professor.

Roberts earned her bachelor's degree magna cum laude from Yale and her law degree from Harvard University. She served as a law clerk to Judge Constance Baker Motley of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York upon graduation from law school and practiced law for seven years. She served on the faculty of the Rutgers University School of Law for 10 years before joining the law faculty of Northwestern University.

The Edith House Lecture Series, hosted annually by the Women Law Students Association (WLSA), is named for one of the first female graduates of the University of Georgia School of Law. A native of Winder, Georgia, House was co-valedictorian of the law class of 1925, the first class to graduate women. She practiced law for 38 years and became assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida and acting U.S. attorney for the district.