Professor Charles Lawrence III


Professor Lawrence joined the Department of Political Science in 2008 from Georgetown. He began his teaching career at the University of San Francisco in 1974, was a tenured professor at Stanford and Georgetown, and has visited several other schools, including Harvard, Berkeley, UCLA, and the University of Southern California. Professor Lawrence is best known for his prolific work in antidiscrimination law, equal protection, and critical race theory. His book, We Won't Go Back: Making the Case for Affirmative Action (Houghton Mifflin, 1997), was co–authored by Professor Mari Matsuda. Professor Lawrence received the University of San Francisco School of Law's Most Distinguished Professor Award; the John Bingham Hurlburt Award for Excellence in Teaching, presented by the 1990 graduating class of Stanford Law School; and the Society of American Law Teachers national teaching award. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Haverford College and served as a member of the District of Columbia Board of Education and on many other public interest boards.

Research Interests

My work focuses on critical race theory, antidiscrimination law and education policy.  I consider how theories of implicit bias, racial formation, racial performance, and racial identity might inform our understanding of how best to engage in the project of racial justice and related humanizing anti-subordination endeavors.  Most recently I have been particularly interested in how thinking about race as performative political speech might provide a way to uncover and understand the cultural discourse of colorblindness and post-racialism and the pro-assimilationist sentiment in antidiscrimination law and theory. I am also interested in how literary texts construct, rationalize and justify legal violence. I focus on the manner in which African American and other subaltern communities’ texts intervene and talk back to legal and cultural texts that constitute a Euro-American master narrative as well as the ways that these subaltern texts speak to each other. 

Recent Awards, Appointments, Grants and Honors

Board of Directors, Society of American Law Teachers (1982–present) (President 1988–89).

Board of Directors, Public Radio International (1999–present).

Board of Education, District of Columbia Public Schools (2001–2004).

Board of Directors, Maya Angelou Public Charter School (2003–present).


Curriculum Vitae

University of Hawai'i at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law