Hugo L. Black Lecture on Freedom of Expression

Freedom of Thought and the Struggle to End Slavery 

Professor Keith Whittington, Princeton University 

Thursday, March 31, 2022, 7:00 pm

Daniel Family Commons, Usdan Hall and a Zoom Webinar.

Please register for the webinar event here.

Please register for the in-person event here. 

This annual lecture is designed to bring to the Wesleyan Campus, public figures and scholars with experience and expertise in matters related to the First Amendment and freedom of expression. This lecture is endowed by Leonard S. Halpert ’44 (1922–2017), who believed that the First Amendment to the US Constitution is the basis upon which we enjoy all other Civil Rights. This lecture is named in honor of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo L. Black. 

About the Lecture

The abolitionists saw the success of their movement as a victory for free speech, as well as for human liberty generally. To them, free speech was a necessary adjunct to their goal of converting a small movement on the fringes of mainstream politics into a powerful political force that could shape public opinion and win democratic elections. Their opponents thought the same, and engaged in aggressive efforts to suppress and silence antislavery speakers and writers in the antebellum period. The struggle to end slavery was also a struggle to extend and protect the freedom of speech.


Keith Whittington Bio

Keith E. Whittington is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics at Princeton University and is currently the chair of Academic Freedom Alliance and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution. He works on American constitutional history, politics and law, and on American political thought. He is the author of Repugnant Laws: Judicial Review of Acts of Congress from the Founding to the Present and Speak Freely: Why Universities Must Defend Free Speech, among other works. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, and the University of Texas School of Law, and he is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He did his undergraduate work at the University of Texas at Austin and completed his Ph.D. in political science at Yale University. 

 Hugo Black 2022 poster

Hugo L. Black Lecturers 1991 - 2021

Keith Whittington                                                    William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics at Princeton University


Bertrall Ross
Chancellor's Professor of Law
U.C. Berkeley Law

Jelani Cobb
IRA A. Lipman Professor of Journalism
Columbia University

A. Leon Higginbotham Jr.
Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals  for
the Third Circuit, Philadelphia

Rodney Smolla
University of Richmond Law School

Harry A. Blackmun
Supreme Court of the United States

Margaret Marshall
Chief Justice
Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts

Anthony Lewis
Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist,
The New York Times

Cass Sunstein
School of Law
University of Chicago

Nadine Strossen
American Civil Liberties Union

Patricia Williams
Professor of Law
Columbia University

Abner Mikva
Former Chief Judge, U.S. Court of
Appeals for the District of Columbia

Laurence H. Tribe
Carl M. Loeb University Professor,
Harvard University

Norman Dorsen
Stokes Professor of Law,
NYU School of Law

Lawrence Lessig

Director, Edmond J. Safra Foundation
Center for Ethic
Professor, Harvard Law School

Patricia Wald
Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for
the District of Columbia

Jack M. Balkin
Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the
First Amendment
Yale Law School

Floyd Abrahms
William J. Brennan Visiting Professor of
First Amendment Law, Columbia University

Antonin Scalia
Associate Justice
Supreme Court of the United States

Kathleen Sullivan
Stanford Law School

Geoffrey R. Stone
Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor
University of Chicago Law School

Nat Hentoff
Award-winning author and journalist

Aharon Barak
President of the Israeli Supreme Court (Ret.),
IDC Herzliya

Lee C. Bollinger
Columbia University

Robert Post

Sol and Lillian Goldman Professor of Law
Dean, Yale Law School

Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director
American Civil Liberties Union


Stanley Fish

The Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University
Professor and Professor of Law
Florida International University


Linda Greenhouse
Knight Distinguished Journalist in Residence
Joseph M. Goldstein Lecturer in Law
Yale Law School


John Finn
Professor Emeritus
Wesleyan University