2018 MLK Commemoration to Highlight Progress Through Protest

NAACP Legal Defense Fund president to deliver keynote address

Sherrilyn Ifill will deliver the keynote address at the 2018 Duke University observance for Martin Luther King Jr.
Sherrilyn Ifill will deliver the keynote address at the 2018 Duke University observance for Martin Luther King Jr.

DURHAM, N.C. -- Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), will deliver the keynote address for Duke University’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration on Sunday, Jan. 14.

Ifill, the LDF’s seventh president since Thurgood Marshall founded the organization in 1940, is a former professor at the University of Maryland School of Law.

The public is invited to the annual program, which will link Dr. King’s civil rights legacy to the continuing struggle for equity and justice in all facets of our society. The commemoration event starts at 3 p.m. in Duke University Chapel, and free parking is available in the Bryan Center Parking Garage (see map at http://myatlascms.com/map/?id=21&mrkIid=39570).

A critically acclaimed author, Ifill’s book “On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century,” reflects her lifelong engagement in and analysis of issues of race and American public life. She is a contributing author of the new book, “Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment.” Ifill's scholarly writing has focused on the importance of diversity on the bench, and she is currently writing a book about race and Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

Under Ifill’s leadership, LDF led a successful effort to gain a preliminary injunction last month stopping the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from suspending a rule to assist low-income families in securing affordable housing in higher-opportunity areas.

As a professor at the University of Maryland, Ifill launched several innovative legal initiatives, including an environmental justice course in which students represented rural communities in Maryland, and one of the first legal clinics in the nation focused on removing legal barriers to formerly incarcerated persons seeking to responsibly re-enter society.

Ifill recently talked with NPR’s “Morning Edition” about her op-ed in TIME on the impact African-American voters had on the Alabama Senate race, and what it might mean for 2018.

Those unable to attend can watch a live stream of the event on Duke’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1P5U8R1N2k. Viewers can post comments on Twitterusing the hashtag #DukeMLK. An archive of the recording will also be posted online.

“I am extremely grateful that at this particular moment, when our voices and protests are so sorely needed, Sherrilyn Ifill stands as a powerful example of the type of leader who forcefully pushes back against the inequities and injustices that are so prevalent in our country,” said Benjamin Reese Jr., vice president of the Duke Office for Institutional Equity. “Her astute legal mind and courageous stances shine a light on the way forward to a brighter future for our nation.”

Other highlights of the Duke Chapel program include performances by Bobby Caddell, Yvette Cates and Felicia Wright, along with The John Brown Band and the Collage Dance Company of Durham. There will also be greetings from Duke President Vincent Price, Durham Mayor Steve Schewel, Duke University Hospital President Dr. Thomas Owens and Duke Black Student Alliance President Michael Ivory Jr.

Additional campus events include a panel discussion at 7 p.m. Jan. 11 in Griffith Film Theater on the impact of athlete protests, titled “Progress Through Protest: Equality, With Liberty and Justice for All,” moderated by Nolan Smith, former pro and Duke basketball player and current special assistant coach for the Duke men's basketball team. Panelists include attorney and sports agent Joseph R. Lefft, co-founder of the National Association of Coaching Equity and Development; Duke Women’s Track and Field team member Jaida Lemmons; N.C. Central University Director of Athletics Ingrid Wicker McCree; Duke Professor of African & African American Studies Mark Anthony Neal; Duke Women’s Lacrosse player Michelle Staggers; and William Wright, assistant director of Duke Student-Athlete Development.

Other campus events, including two for the Duke Health community, include:

-- 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 9, Trent Semans Great Hall, Duke School of Medicine: NASA astronaut and physician Dr. Mae C. Jemison, the first woman of color to go into space, will deliver the keynote lecture, titled “Find Where the Wind Goes,” for Duke Hospital’s annual MLK Celebration. The title comes from her book for teenagers about her experiences growing up on the South Side of Chicago. The event, which is open to the Duke Health community, will also feature live music by John Brown Jazz. Lunch will be served at 11 a.m. Seating is limited and registration is required here (using course registration number EDS1156). For more information, call (919) 684-4293.

-- 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 11, Trent Semans Great Hall, Duke School of Medicine: For the 10th year, Duke Hospital will honor team members who volunteer in the community. Dr. William J. Fulkerson, executive vice president for Duke University Health System, will announce the name of the 2018 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Caregiver Award winner and present a check for $5,000 to the organization for which the winner volunteers. Also, hear about some of the amazing things past winners continue to do for our community and learn more about the third Habitat House that Duke Hospital is building for a family in Durham. Lunch will be served and the event will include music by John Brown Jazz. Seating is limited for the event, which is open to the Duke Health community, and registration is required here (using course registration number EDS1157). For more information, call (919) 684-4293.

-- 11 a.m., Sunday, Jan. 14, Duke Chapel: Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Georgetown University sociology professor and New York Times contributing opinion writer, is the guest preacher during the chapel’s regular worshipservice. Dyson has authored or edited 18 books dealing with subjects such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Marvin Gaye, Bill Cosby, Tupac Shakur and Hurricane Katrina. His most recent book, “Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America,” was described by a reviewer in The New York Times as “one of the most frank and searing discussions of race I have ever read.” Watch a live webcast or archived video of the program here.

-- 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Monday, Jan. 15, Phail Wynn Jr. Student Services Center, Durham Technical Community College, 1637 E. Lawson St.: Duke community members continue to commemorate the holiday during a meal-packing event on Durham Tech’s campus. The event is co-sponsored by Duke Student Government, Duke’s Office of Durham & Regional Affairs and Duke’s Office for Institutional Equity.

Volunteers will work to package 100,000 meals for the United Way of the Greater Triangle. Volunteers must be at least 5 years old and an adult must accompany minors. Volunteers will create soup mixes, rice bags and bean bags to fill the shelves of pantries in the Triangle area. All food items will be distributed to partner agencies working to end hunger in Durham, Orange, Chatham, Wake, Johnston and Edgecombe counties. Registration is now closed; students filled all the available spaces.

-- 1-2 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 16, Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI), Lower Level Lecture Hall, 2400 Pratt St.: For DCRI’s annual MLK Celebration, Rev. Dr. Michelle Laws, entrepreneur and global human rights and social justice activist, will deliver the keynote lecture, titled “From Chaos to Community: Advancing Dr. King's Vision of a United World House.” The titleechoes Dr. King's last book, written in 1967, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” Paid parking is available in the deck. The H2 Loop campus bus stops at PG3, which is located at North Pavilion. Watch a live webcast or archived video of the program here.

Learn more about this year’s commemoration, whose theme is “From King to Kaepernick – Progress Through Protest,” at http://mlk.duke.edu.

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