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Campus Celebrates Martin Luther King Jan. 21

Guest speakers are Alexis Herman, former labor department secretary, Eva Jefferson Paterson, founder of the Equal Justice Society, and Theodore Shaw, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

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January 15, 2008 | by Judy Moore
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Alexis M. Herman, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, and Northwestern alumna Eva Jefferson Paterson, the president and founder of the Equal Justice Society, will be the featured speakers on the Evanston campus at Northwestern University's 2008 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Monday, Jan. 21.

Theodore M. Shaw, director-counsel and president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), the nation's premier civil rights law firm, will be the keynote speaker that day on the University's Chicago campus.

Northwestern has suspended classes on Monday, Jan. 21, on both campuses for a University-wide, full-day observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The celebration will include a series of events and talks, which are free and open to the public.

Herman will speak during the 11 a.m. celebration at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive. Paterson's talk will take place during the 7 p.m. Candlelight Vigil observance in Alice Millar Chapel, 1870 Sheridan Road. Both events will be held on the Evanston campus.

The annual Candlelight Vigil is Northwestern's longest-running observance and has been hosted for more than 20 years by the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the late Dr. King's fraternity.

Shaw will present his keynote talk during a noon celebration in Thorne Auditorium at the School of Law, 375 E. Chicago Ave. The program will include a musical commemoration by the guest gospel music group G3 and remarks from the deans of both the University's Feinberg School of Medicine and the School of Law.

Shaw's talk will be preceded by a 10 a.m. mock oral argument, also taking place at Thorne Auditorium, featuring teams of students and professors re-arguing the recent Supreme Court desegregation case, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1. A few 7th Circuit Court District Judges will serve on a panel as Supreme Court Justices.

Following Shaw's appearance, a 1:30 p.m. medical panel on "Racialized Medicine" will take place in the Hughes Auditorium of the Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center, 303 E. Superior St. The purpose of the panel is to explore whether race can be quantified for valuable use in science and medicine. The afternoon medical panel is co-sponsored by the School of Law and the School of Medicine.

The panel discussion will be followed by a 4 p.m. public reception in the atrium outside the auditorium.

Herman was the first African-American ever to lead the U.S. Department of Labor. She began her career working for Catholic Charities helping young out-of-school men and women find work in the Pascagoula, Miss., shipyard. At the age of 29, President Jimmy Carter's appointment made her the youngest director of the Women's Bureau in the history of the U.S. Department of Labor. She was sworn in as America's 23rd Secretary of Labor on May 1, 1997, as part of the Clinton administration. She also served as a member of the National Economic Council. As chair and chief executive officer of New Ventures, Inc., a national organization dedicated to changing the law through progressive legal theory, public policy and practice, Herman has continued to lend her expertise and talent to a vast array of corporate enterprises and nonprofit organizations. Her nonprofit work includes the National Urban League and the National Epilepsy Foundation. Active in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Herman now serves as the co-chair of the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund.

Paterson has campaigned for civil rights for more than three decades. Prior to taking the helm of the Equal Justice Society in 2003, Paterson worked at the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights for 20 years, 13 of them as executive director. She led the organization's work providing free legal services to low-income individuals, litigating class action civil rights cases and advocating for social justice. Paterson co-founded and chaired the California Coalition for Civil Rights for 18 years and was a leading spokesperson in the campaigns against Proposition 187 (anti-immigration) and Proposition 209 (anti-affirmative action) and numerous other statewide campaigns against the death penalty, juvenile incarceration and discrimination against lesbians and gay men. During her junior year at Northwestern she became the first African-American president of the student government. While in this role she gained national prominence as a central spokesperson and negotiator for the student community during the period of campus unrest following the shootings at Kent State University.

Chicago campus keynote speaker Shaw joined the Legal Defense Fund in 1982. He directed LDF's education docket and litigated school desegregation, capital punishment and other civil rights cases throughout the country. In 1990, Shaw left the LDF to join the faculty of the University of Michigan Law School, where he taught constitutional law, civil procedure and civil rights. In 1993, on a leave of absence from Michigan, he rejoined LDF as associate director-counsel. (For more biographical information on Shaw, visit <http://www.naacpldf.org/content.aspx?article=47>.)

For more information on the Jan. 21 Chicago campus events, phone (312) 503-4557.

For more information about Evanston campus events e-mail Burgwell Howard, assistant to the vice president for student affairs, at <b-howard@northwestern.edu> or <mlk@northwestern.edu>.

Information about 2008 Martin Luther King Jr. Day events on both campuses also is available online at <www.northwestern.edu/mlk/>.

Topics: Campus Life