skip to Main Content
Marion Post Wolcott, "A Fourth of July celebration, St. Helena Island, S.C.," 1939. Courtesy U.S. Library of Congress


Landscapes of Equality

Racial Inequality and the American Administrative State – Can the Past Be Undone?

It took U.S. activists decades of sometimes-violent struggle to achieve even a modest framework of limited federal protections for workers, the poor, and other vulnerable groups. But constructing this limited welfare state came at a high—and often unseen—cost: twentieth-century liberal reformers periodically bargained with Southern white supremacists to form the coalitions necessary to pass key legislation and create new federal agencies and programs. In this talk, Joy Milligan argues that while these redistributive programs helped secure a robust white middle-class that could accrue and pass down financial capital to future generations, they also deepened racial disparities and supported apartheid-like systems throughout America that blocked the creation of wealth and human capital for African Americans and other racial minorities. Can the U.S. administrative state be redeemed? Milligan argues that it can and must be reconstructed if the racial harms it has caused are to be repaired, and that the power of the federal administrative apparatus is crucial if racial equity is ever to be achieved.

The event is part of the lecture series Landscapes of Equality and is hosted in cooperation with the Integrative Research Institute Law & Society at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. It will take place online. Please register at: lsi(at)

14 Dec 21
18:15 - 20:00
Speaker: Joy Milligan

This event took place on December 14, 2021.

Back To Top