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Fellowship / Fellows

Tomiko Brown-Nagin

  • 2016–2017
  • History
  • Joy Foundation Fellow
  • Harvard University
Headshot of Tomiko Brown-Nagin
Photo by Tony Rinaldo

This information is accurate as of the fellowship year indicated for each fellow.

Tomiko Brown-Nagin is the Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School and a professor of history on Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The codirector of the law school’s Program in Law and History, Brown-Nagin is an award-winning legal historian and expert in constitutional law and education law and policy. She has written extensively on the Supreme Court’s equal-protection jurisprudence, civil rights law and history, the Affordable Care Act, and education reform.

During her fellowship year, Brown-Nagin is considering 20th-century American history as told through the life and workplace experiences of Constance Baker Motley—the black woman lawyer, politician, and judge who rose from poverty to play a decisive role in three social movements that reconstructed American law and society. A public figure from the Popular Front–era through the Reagan Revolution, Motley worked as a change agent in the labor, civil rights, and women’s rights movements before ascending to the federal judiciary. This examination of Motley’s life and times reflects on race, gender, class, and social change in the American Century and yields insights about the American power structure.

Brown-Nagin’s book Courage to Dissent: Atlanta and the Long History of the Civil Rights Movement (Oxford University Press, 2011) won the 2012 Bancroft Prize in American history. Brown-Nagin earned a law degree from Yale University, where she served as editor of the Yale Law Journal, and a doctorate in history from Duke University.

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