The most important and intangible aspect of teaching and practicing social justice law is retaining the hope that our efforts can translate into progressive results. At times, professors’ approaches to the subject of social justice tend toward pessimism that can have unintended negative effects on students. Thus, this Article calls on social justice professors to explicitly teach hope and, moreover, to produce practical scholarship on pressing legal issues that will help students keep hope once they leave school. This Article begins by exploring the theme of hope in John O. Calmore’s scholarship and how it interrelates with his project of producing social justice lawyers. It then delves into his teaching methodology and describes the specific competencies he tried to create in his social justice students, particularly in their writing and their approach to building relationships with clients. Next, the Article addresses how those lessons carry beyond law school, including both those instances where they help and those instances where practitioners are left wanting and needing more. From that point, the Article proceeds to describe how our teaching and scholarship can meet that need, and ultimately inspire hope. The Article ends with concrete examples from the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education that show how we can find, teach, and keep hope.
Derek W. Black, Turning Stones of Hope into Boulders of Resistance: The First and Last Task of Social Justice Curriculum, Scholarship, and Practice, 86 NORTH CAROLINA LAW REVIEW 673 (2008).