The mic is live.

The Baldy Center proudly sponsors a series of speakers each year who share their ongoing work on important topics in law and society. The speakers provide an important catalyst for research and dialogue in the Baldy community. This spring's online speaker events are planned according to UB's developing COVID-19 related protocols.

About the Speakers

Related Links


Baldy Distinguished Speakers generally provide advance materials or working drafts of their papers to facilitate discussion. Advance papers are available to the UB community, here

If you would like assistance in accessing a paper, please contact us via telephone: 716-615-2102; or via email: baldycenter@buffalo.edu

After the event the materials and draft papers are no longer available in recognition that the draft paper is likely to change and the final version may be published elsewhere.

The Baldy Center Book Talk is co-sponsored by UB Department of Sociology

Hadar Aviram, March 5, 2021, Online Book Talk

Yesterday's Monsters The Manson Family Cases and the Illusion of Parole

Hadar Aviram, Book Talk.

Hadar Aviram (UC Hastings Law)

Yesterday's Monsters The Manson Family Cases and the Illusion of Parole (UC Press 2020).

Related news, December 2020: Leslie Van Houtenan, the imprisoned follower of Manson convicted in the 1969 killing spree, was denied parole for the fourth time in four years.

The Baldy Center invites you to join us online, Friday, 12:00 p.m., March 5, 2021, for the Book Talk by Hadar Aviram. The online event is free and open to the public with advance registration.

Hadar Aviram specializes in criminal justice, civil rights, law and politics, and social movements, and her research employs socio-legal perspectives and methodologies. Her first book Cheap on Crime: Recession-Era Politics and the Transformation of American Punishment (UC Press, 2015, winner of the CHOICE Award for Academic Titles) analyzes the impact of the financial crisis on the American correctional landscape. Her second book The Legal Promise and the Process of Justice (Cambridge University Press, 2019) is an anthology of studies inspired by the work of Malcolm Feeley. Her third book Yesterday’s Monsters: The Manson Family Cases and the Illusion of Parole (UC Press, 2020) examines the California parole process through 50 years of parole transcripts in the Manson Family cases. One of the leading voices in the state and nationwide against mass incarceration, Prof. Aviram is a frequent media commentator on politics, immigration, criminal justice policy, civil rights, and the Trump Administration. Her blog, California Correctional Crisis, covers criminal justice policy in California.

Prof. Aviram holds LL.B. and M.A. (criminology) degrees from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a Ph.D. in Jurisprudence and Social Policy from UC Berkeley, where she studied as a Fulbright Fellow and a Regents Intern. She is a member of the California and Israel Bars. Prior to joining the Hastings faculty in 2007, she practiced as a military defense attorney in Israel and taught at Tel Aviv and Haifa Universities. See faculty profile.

About the book: In 1969, the world was shocked by a series of murders committed by Charles Manson and his “family” of followers. Although the defendants were sentenced to death in 1971, their sentences were commuted to life with parole in 1972; since 1978, they have been regularly attending parole hearings. Today all of the living defendants remain behind bars.

Relying on nearly fifty years of parole hearing transcripts, as well as interviews and archival materials, Hadar Aviram invites readers into the opaque world of the California parole process—a realm of almost unfettered administrative discretion, prison programming inadequacies, high-pitched emotions, and political pressures. Yesterday’s Monsters offers a fresh longitudinal perspective on extreme punishment.

Book Talk sponsor: UB CAS Center for Diversity Innovation

Event co-sponsors: The Baldy Center and UB's Office of Inclusive Excellence

William A. Darity and A. Kirsten Mullen, March 11, 2021, Online Book Talk

Join us for the online book talk by William A. Darity and A. Kirsten Mullen, co-authors of From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the 21st Century (UNC PRess, 2020). Their work confronts racial injustices head-on, and make the most comprehensive case to date for economic reparations for U.S. descendants of slavery. The book contains a stark assessment of the intergenerational effects of white supremacy on black economic well-being. Darity and Mullen examine past and present to measure the inequalities borne of slavery. Linking monetary values to historical wrongs, they assess the literal and figurative costs of justice denied in the 155 years since the end of the Civil War. The co-authors offer a detailed roadmap for an effective reparations program, including payment to each documented U.S. descendant of slavery. The event is sponsored by the UB Center for Diversity Innovation. Co-sponsors include The Baldy Center and UB's Office of Inclusive Excellence. 

See the UB Center for Diversity Innovation website to learn more about the event.

 William A. Darity.

 William A. Darity, PhD

A. Kirsten Mullen.

A. Kirsten Mullen

From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the 21st Century.
  • Samantha Barbas, Fall 2021, Online Book Talk

    The Rise and Fall of Morris Ernst, Free Speech Renegade

    This fall all are welcome to join UB School of Law Professor and The Baldy Center Director Samantha Barbas for the launch of her new book, "The Rise and Fall of Morris Ernst, Free Speech Renegade." She will discuss Morris Ernst's contributions to law and his personal and professional contradictions. The event is free and open to the public with advance registration.

    From the publisher

    The Rise and Fall of Morris Ernst: Free Speech Renegade (University of Chicago Press, 2021).

    The Rise and Fall of Morris Ernst: Free Speech Renegade (University of Chicago Press, 2021)

    The Rise and Fall of Morris Ernst: Free Speech Renegade by Samantha Barbas
    University of Chicago Press (forthcoming, 2021)

    In the 1930s and ’40s, Morris Ernst was one of the best-known liberal lawyers in the United States. An eminent attorney and general counsel of the ACLU for decades, Ernst was renowned for his audacious fights against literary and artistic censorship. He successfully defended Ulysses against obscenity charges, litigated groundbreaking reproductive rights cases, and supported the widespread broadening of protections for sexual expression, union organizing, and public speech. Yet this “human dynamo,” as friends called him, was also a man of stark contradictions, who also waged a personal battle against Communism, defended a foreign autocrat, and aligned himself with J. Edgar Hoover’s inflammatory crusades.

    Arriving at a moment when issues of privacy, artistic freedom, and personal expression are freshly relevant, The Rise and Fall of Morris Ernst, Free Speech Renegade brings this singularly complex figure into a timely new light. As Samantha Barbas’s eloquent and compelling biography makes ironically clear, Ernst both transformed free speech in America and inflicted damage to the cause of civil liberties. Drawing on Ernst’s voluminous cache of publications and papers, Barbas follows the life of this singular idealist from his pugnacious early career to his legal triumphs of the 1930s and ’40s and later-life turn toward zealous anticommunism. As she shows, today’s challenges to free speech and the exercise of political power make Morris Ernst’s battles as pertinent as ever.

    Book Reviews

    “A lively and illuminating portrait of one of the major figures in the history of American civil liberties. Barbas captures Ernst in all his glory and complexity, revealing how a man who was once the country’s leading liberal lawyer became a red-baiter and Hoover ally. Meticulously researched and elegantly written, The Rise and Fall of Morris Ernst is biography and legal history at its finest.” —Thomas Healy, author of The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind—and Changed the History of Free Speech in America
    “Does Morris Ernst need a biography? Yes, definitely. His is a fascinating story of a major civil libertarian who pioneered the expansion of freedom in American life then blew it all through obsessive anti-Communism. Barbas writes beautifully, and this lively, lucid book is a pleasure to read. More than that, her biography is especially significant today since so many of the issues Ernst fought against are still urgently relevant in American political discourse.” —Ellen Schrecker, author of The Lost Promise: American Universities in the 1960s 
    “How could one man have been both a leading defender of the First Amendment and an avid fan of J. Edgar Hoover? Barbas’s fascinating biography answers that question by telling the remarkable story of one of the nation’s most influential, and complicated, civil liberties lawyers.” —David Cole, national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union
    “Ernst was a singular warrior for the freedom of expression, ultimately undone by his paradoxical embrace of Hoover and McCarthy. Barbas’s biography is a sharp, fast-paced account of a twentieth-century civil libertarian who fought for causes that are still vital today.” —Nadine Strossen, author of HATE: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship



    Samantha Barbas.

    Samantha Barbas

    About the Author

    Samantha Barbas, PhD, JD, is the Director of The Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy and Professor of Law at the University at Buffalo School of Law. Barbas holds a Ph.D. in U.S. history from the University of California, Berkeley, and a J.D. from Stanford Law School. Barbas is the author of several books and her sixth book about ACLU lawyer Morris Ernst is from the University of Chicago Press (May 2021). Learn more about the author.



Fall 2021

China’s Age of Abundance: Origins, Ascendance, and Aftermaths

Wang Feng, September 3, 2021, Distinguished Speaker

Wang Feng, PhD.

Wang Feng, PhD

Join us on September 3, 2021, for a presentation by The Baldy Center Distinguished Speaker Wang Feng, PhD (UC Irvine). Professor Wang is leading expert on Chinese demography and economic inequality. His research interests include comparative demographic, economic, and social processes, social inequality in state socialisms, and, contemporary Chinese society. The event is co-sponsored in part by The Baldy Center, UB Confucius Institute, and UB CAS Department of Sociology. The event is free and open to the public with advance registration.

September 3, 2021, Friday, 12:00 p.m. 
509 O’Brian Hall, UB North Campus 

Recent Publication: Convergence to Very Low Fertility in East Asia: Processes, Causes, and Implications. (Noriko O. Tsuya, Minja K. Choe, and Wang Feng). Springer. 2019.

Speaker Bio: Wang Feng is professor of sociology at the University of California, Irvine, and an adjunct professor of sociology and demography at Fudan University in Shanghai, China. He has done extensive research on global social and demographic changes, comparative population and social history, and social inequality, with a focus on China. He is the author of multiple books, and his research articles have been published in venues including Population and Development Review, Demography, Science, The Journal of the Economics of Aging, The Journal of Asian Studies, The China Journal, and International Migration Review. He has served on expert panels for the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, and as a senior fellow and the director of the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy. His work and views have appeared in media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Financial Times, The Guardian, Economist, NPR, CNN, BBC, and others. Faculty profile.

Event Note: The event is free and open to the public with advance registration (forthcoming).