Professor Michael Curtis to participate in symposium on Albion Tourgée on Friday, Nov. 4

Registration is open for “A Radical Notion of Democracy: Law, Race and Albion Tourgée,” a public law and humanities symposium to be held in downtown Raleigh on Friday, Nov. 4.

The symposium will focus on the life and career of this important 19-century figure, a former Union soldier who settled in Greensboro after the Civil War. UNC’s Center for the Study of the American South is organizing the event, with partners including the UNC School of Law, Elon University School of Law and other organizations. Five hours of CLE credit are available.

A lawyer, judge, novelist and activist, Tourgée worked for racial equality in the state for 13 years. His legacy lives on in the provisions of the state Constitution guaranteeing free public education, as well as other reforms. He later achieved national fame for representing Homer Plessy in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), the U.S. Supreme Court case that established separate-but-equal facilities as the foundation of de jure segregation.

The program, to be held in the State Library Building, features keynote lectures by Tourgée biographer Mark Elliott of UNC-Greensboro and historian Blair Kelley of North Carolina State University, as well as two panels featuring other distinguished scholars of law and history, including Wake Forest University School of Law’s Michael Kent Curtis, Brook Thomas and Alfred Brophy.

The event will conclude in the State Capitol Building with a dramatic reenactment of scenes from the Constitutional Convention of 1868, including a performance by Paul Paliyenko as Tourgée. Cameo roles will be played by North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby and former justice Robert Orr.

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. To register, see