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Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Tracey Meares Discusses Policing and Justice


The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota policemen sparked a summer of protests in 2020, along with an ongoing “reckoning” about the treatment of Blacks in America. As the nation now watches the trial of the policeman accused of his murder, there is perhaps no better time for Morehouse College’s Phi Beta Kappa Chapter to welcome visiting scholar Tracey Meares, a nationally recognized expert and theorist on policing in urban communities and police legitimacy. Among other engagements, Professor Mears will discuss “Policing and its Reform in the 21st Century: Creating a New Narrative of Public Safety” on Friday, April 9 at 4 p.m. via Zoom. The event is virtual, free, and open to the public.

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In her work, Mears explores how racial narratives influence police relationships with minority communities and how deliberate attention to these issues can influence community compliance with the law. She is the Walton Hale Hamilton Professor and a founding director of the Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law School. Before joining the faculty at Yale, she was a professor at the University of Chicago Law School from 1995 to 2007, serving as Max Pam Professor and Director of the Center for Studies in Criminal Justice. She was the first African American woman to be granted tenure at both law schools. Her research focuses on understanding how members of the public think about their relationships with legal authorities such as police, prosecutors, and judges. Former President Barack Obama named her as a member of his Task Force on 21st Century Policing, and she was recently elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

As part of her virtual visit, Professor Meares will participate in a number of classes and lectures, discussing race and law, prison reform, interracial communication, and political sociology. She will also tour Morehouse’s King Papers collection and speak with students during Morehouse’s Crown Forum, where she will discuss “Policing as a Public Good.”

The Delta of Georgia Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa Fraternity, Inc. was established at Morehouse College on January 6, 1968, with the encouragement of legendary former president Benjamin Elijah Mayes, a Phi Beta Kappa member. The Morehouse College chapter was the first chapter at a Georgia historically black college or university. Among the first members of the Delta of Georgia Chapter was Michael L. Lomax, now the president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund.