Press Release

Civil Rights Activist, Scientist Take Podiums for MLK Celebration

December 17, 2013 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Celebrated civil rights attorney, advocate and legal scholar Michelle Alexander -- who wrote that many of the gains of the civil rights movement have been undermined by the mass incarceration of black Americans in the war on drugs -- and Carol Moseley Braun, the first African-American woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate (in 1992), will be the featured keynote speakers at Northwestern University’s 2015 commemoration of the life and legacy of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

The 10-day 2015 celebration will begin Jan. 17 with a Day of Service. Northwestern students will engage in various service projects throughout Evanston and the Chicago area and reflect on their experiences.

Northwestern has suspended classes Monday, Jan. 19 on the Evanston and Chicago campuses for a University-wide, full-day observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. That evening Moseley Braun will speak at 7 p.m. at the Alpha Phi Alpha Candlelight Vigil at Alice Millar Chapel. An Eva Jefferson Day event will be held that day from 8:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. for Chicago Public School students and will include arts, crafts and a discussion about the legacy of Martin Luther King.

Evanston campus observances will conclude Jan. 26 with an evening program at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall featuring a keynote address by Michelle Alexander and music and performances from Northwestern student groups. All events are free and open to the public, unless noted.

A Jan. 19 Student Oratorical contest will take place at Norris University Center’s McCormick Auditorium.

A Jan. 30 Harambee (Swahili for “pull together”), from 7 to 10 p.m., in Norris University Center’s Louis Room, will feature free food, performances and presentations. For Evanston campus event details, visit www.northwestern.edu/mlk/program-ev.html.

Michelle Alexander holds a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University. Prior to joining the Kirwan Institute, Alexander was an associate professor of law at Stanford Law School, where she directed the civil rights clinics. In 2005, she won a Soros Justice Fellowship, which supported the writing of her highly-lauded first book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” For more, visit www.northwestern.edu/mlk/speaker-ev.html.

Carol Moseley Braun is a former candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. She served her country as Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, United States Senator from Illinois, Cook County Executive Officer, Illinois State Representative and United States Attorney. She also was the first permanent female member of the Senate Finance Committee. A women’s and civil rights activist, she transitioned to the private sector in 2001 after nearly 30 years in public service. In 2005, she founded Good Foods Organics, a premium, Certified USDA Organic and Biodynamic products company. For more, visitwww.northwestern.edu/mlk/speaker-ev.html.
 
Chicago campus events
 
The following events will take place on or near Northwestern’s Chicago campus.  For more information, visit www.northwestern.edu/mlk/program-ch.html.

  • Tuesday, Jan. 20: Evening at the Movies, featuring “Selma” at the AMC River East movie theater. The DREAM Committee will subsidize the full ticket price for the movie and host a discussion afterward. (This event is for Northwestern community members only.)
  • Wednesday, Jan. 21: DREAM Week Reception/Crime Scene Chicago: “Let Hope Rise,” a theatrical production by Collaboraction theater group. A reception will precede the evening event, and a facilitated discussion will follow the play.
  • Thursday, Jan. 22: A lunchtime panel discussion on Institutional Mistrust begins at noon. Panelists will discuss disenfranchised communities’ distrust of legal and health care systems and strategies to better connect those communities to needed legal and health care services.
  • Saturday, Jan. 24: Service Activity. (Various times and locations)

- See more at: http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2014/12/speakers-announced-for-mlk-celebration.html#sthash.luDgNyjg.dpuf


michelle alexander

Michelle Alexander is a highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, advocate, and legal scholar who currently holds a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University.  Prior to joining the Kirwan Institute, Alexander was an associate professor of law at Stanford Law School, where she directed the Civil Rights Clinics. In 2005, she won a Soros Justice Fellowship, which supported the writing of her first book, The New Jim Crow:  Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.  The book has received rave reviews and has been featured in many national radio and television media outlets.  

For several years, Alexander served as the Director of the Racial Justice Project for the ACLU of Northern California, where she helped to lead a national campaign against racial profiling by law enforcement. While an associate at Saperstein, Goldstein, Demchak & Baller, she specialized in plaintiff-side class action lawsuits alleging race and gender discrimination. 

Alexander is a graduate of Stanford Law School and Vanderbilt University.

carol moseley braun

Born and raised in Chicago, Carol Moseley Braun’s interest in agricultural practices began as a child while spending summers on her great-grandmother’s pecan farm in Union Springs, Ala. There she learned what she would later recognize as Biodynamic agriculture — a way of farming in close harmony and connection with the natural environment. Ambassador Braun ultimately pursued a career path that fulfilled her desire for public service, and she has devoted much of her professional life to issues concerning the environment and social justice. Hailing from a largely agricultural state, she became involved in agriculture policy first in the state legislature and then during her term as a United States Senator. Working towards improved food safety, health and nutrition, environmental justice and conservation were  priorities for Ambassador Braun  in the Senate.

The first permanent female member of the Senate Finance Committee, Ambassador Braun advocated for retirement security and health care support for working men and women. She proposed the first modern federal school construction legislation, and the first women's pension equity laws. She sponsored Environmental Justice legislation, historic preservation of the Underground Railroad, and the first federal support of Lupus research. She was a co-sponsor of a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment. She remains the only African American woman to have ever served in the Senate.

Ambassador Braun received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Illinois, and a law degree from the University of Chicago.  She was a fellow in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She has served her country as Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, United States Senator from Illinois, Cook County Executive Officer, Illinois State Representative and United States Attorney. She is a former candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

Her work has earned her more than 200 awards and 11 honorary degrees for achievements in the public interest. A public school, Carol Moseley Braun Elementary, in Calumet City, Ill., was named after her in 2001. The school team name is the Ambassadors.