Event—Tour

Lisa Siraganian, Southern Methodist University

Was the Corporate Person Black? George Schuyler, Intellectual Property, and Race

Was the Corporate Person Black? George Schuyler, Intellectual Property, and Race

This talk investigates some legal and literary responses to a half-century's confounding of the Fourteenth Amendment and its connection to corporate personhood. During the Jim Crow era, African American plaintiffs discovered that incorporating-taking on abstract corporate personhood-sometimes worked to evade restrictive covenants and other racist laws. George Schuyler's satire Black No More (1931) hypothesizes the logical extension of this situation, imagining African American rights and freedoms secured by the corporate form: through "the activities of Black-No-More, Incorporated, it would be possible to do what agitation, education, and legislation failed to do," that is, eliminate Jim Crow laws.