Hostos Community College kicked off its third annual Black at Hostos town hall series on Thursday, February 9 with a stimulating talk on the U.S. Supreme Court’s impact on racial progress presented by Mark Joseph Stern, senior writer at Slate magazine, and moderated by Kathy Taylor, professor at Naugatuck Valley Community College.

President Daisy Cocco De Filippis opened the event, offering insight into the series’ origins. “In 2020, Hostos students noted the increasing violence and other racist behavior inflicted on Black communities here and across the country,” she shared. “They asked the College to join them in supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. This town hall series is one of the ways we responded to the need they expressed. We are honored to provide a safe and open forum where fears can be acknowledged, the status quo challenged, and hopes and dreams for the future embraced.”

Dr. Cocco De Filippis concluded: “I speak for all at Hostos when I say that Black Lives Matter here. They always have, and they always will.”

In his lecture, titled “The Supreme Court’s Relentless Battle Against Racial Progress,” Stern challenged the narrative that the Supreme Court is a guarantor of individual rights and liberty. “Even though it's true that in the fifties and sixties the Supreme Court was mostly marching alongside racial progress, that was an anomaly that was a real blip in the Supreme Court's history and, unfortunately, for most of its history, the court has been aiding in abetting horrific racism, including slavery and Jim Crow.”

Stern also discussed, in depth, the Supreme Court’s influence and impact on the Voting Rights Act, affirmative action, and, most recently, student debt relief, and argued that the Court has wielded disproportionate power in deciding political questions. Additionally, he issued a call for increased civic and political involvement—advocate, vote, run for office, Stern urged.

“Because with the Supreme Court giving itself more and more power, we need people in the other branches to recognize that it's up to them to figure out how to clean up this mess,” he said.

Open to the College campus, Hostos’ stakeholders, and the CUNY-wide community, the Spring 2023 semester’s three-part Black at Hostos series is titled “We’re on the Battlefield: Black Resistance in the Courts, in the Workplace, and in the Classroom.” The second lecture, “Black Resistance in the Workplace” presented by Chris Smalls, will take place in-person on April 25.

Watch “The Supreme Court’s Relentless Battle Against Racial Progress” here