Race has been much contested in U.S. history. Yet it has never been a single thing. Nor has it always been the same thing. Race has been part of a changing national identity. More personally, race has been part of variable individual identity. Who was white, who was Indian, who was black, for example, has not always had the same answer in U.S. history. Yet race has been a persistent element of identity. Every generation of Americans has wrestled with race as a defining issue. It has been long argued over in law. It has been crucial in national and local politics and has presented problems aplenty for government, public policy, and popular practice.
Thomas J. Davis teaches U.S. constitutional and legal history at Arizona State University and has taught as a visiting professor of law at the ASU College of Law. As an historian and lawyer, he focuses on civil rights, employment, and property law (particularly on issues of race, identity and law) in addition to constitutional matters. He received his PhD in U.S. history from Columbia University and his JD cum laude from the University at Buffalo Law School. He is the author most recently of Plessy v. Ferguson (Santa Barbara CA, 2012).