An American Caste System: A Conversation with Professor Sheryll Cashin


On Dec. 10, 2020, Minnesota Journal of Law & Inequality’s (JLI) Editor-in-Chief, Navin Ramalingam, and Lead Symposium Editor, Marisa Tillman, interviewed Professor Sheryll Cashin over Zoom for JLI’s online companion publication, Inequality Inquiry. Prof. Cashin is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law, Civil Rights, and Social Justice at the Georgetown University Law Center. The nearly forty-minute conversation covered Professor Cashin’s illustrious parents and ancestors, her upbringing in Alabama during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, her books, and her passion—researching and writing about racial inequality in America and its effects on Black Americans in the twenty-first century. Due to technical difficulties, the video interview starts a few minutes into the conversation.

After introductions, Navin asked Prof. Cashin about her illustrious parents and ancestors, whom she writes about in her book, The Agitator’s Daughter, and about her upbringing in Alabama during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Prof. Cashin’s great-grandfather, Herschel V. Cashin, was a radical Republican legislator in Alabama during the Reconstruction period. Prof. Cashin’s father, Dr. John L. Cashin, Jr. was a dentist and was also one of the most influential civil-rights leaders in Huntsville and Alabama in the late 1960s. Dr. Cashin, Jr. founded a black-led third party in Alabama, the National Democratic Party of Alabama (NDPA), and challenged Governor George Wallace in the 1970 gubernatorial election in Alabama. During the height of George Wallace’s hegemony, Dr. Cashin, Jr. succeeded in efforts to enfranchise thousands of Black voters who had previously been excluded from the political process through Jim Crow laws. Watch the video to learn more about Prof. Cashin’s involvement with the NDPA as a child, and her work.


Sheryll D. Cashin