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Spring 2003
Why UCLA?
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KIMBERLE CRENSHAW
PROFESSOR OF LAW

WITH FAMILY ROOTS deep in the civil rights movement, Kimberle Crenshaw calls herself a third-generation activist. Her entire law-school career — at Harvard and the University of Wisconsin — was “built on an imperative to understand the relevance of race to law and law to race, and to make that an integral part of law-school education,” she says.

So Crenshaw was thrilled in 1986 when she received a call from UCLA Law Professor Joel Handler asking if she was interested in a position at the Westwood campus. That, says Crenshaw, was “like asking a kid if he’s interested in Disneyland.” UCLA’s law school, after all, was regarded as the most diverse in the country for its faculty, student population and the type of work being done here.

She was just 26 when she arrived at UCLA, and immediately felt accepted. “My colleagues offered the support I needed to develop as a scholar, and that made all the difference in the world to me,” she recalls. “UCLA took a chance on me; I was raw material when they brought me in. They were ahead of the game in their commitment to developing young talent and incorporating those values into the function of the institution.”

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