Berry, Evers-Williams to speak at King event

Published January 23, 2014

Civil rights leaders Mary Frances Berry and Myrlie Evers-Williams will speak at 8 p.m. Feb. 26 in the Center for the Arts, North Campus, as part of UB’s Distinguished Speakers Series and 38th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Event.

Berry has been one of the most recognized and respected voices in our nation’s fight for civil rights, gender equality and social justice through four presidential administrations. She served twice as chair of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission for many years — and famously sued Ronald Reagan when he tried to remove her — and as assistant secretary for education in the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. She is a co-founder of the Free South Africa Movement and was the first woman to head a major research university, the University of Colorado-Boulder.

Berry is the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought at the University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches history and law. She holds PhD and JD degrees, as well as many honorary degrees, and has received numerous awards, among them a citation as one of “America’s Women of the Century” from the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Her recent books include “The Pig Farmer’s Daughter and Other Tales of American Justice” and “Power in Words” (co-authored with J. Gottheimer).

Evers-Williams became a pivotal figure in the civil rights movement when her husband, noted civil rights activist Medgar Evers, was assassinated 50 years ago. She was the first female chair of the NAACP and founded the Medgar Evers Institute to promote education, training and economic development while exposing new generations of students to the cause for which her husband died. She was instrumental in launching “Youth for Unity,” a diversity education program designed to fight injustice and intolerance.

Her aim, she says, is to infuse today’s young people with hope, tolerance and an understanding of the struggles our nation has faced. “If we can help them understand the past and encourage them to creatively address today’s human rights challenges,” she says, “they will be in a much better position to help shape the future.”

Evers-Williams received the 2009 National Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum and was named by Ebony magazine as one of the “100 Most Fascinating Black Women of the 20th Century.”

Tickets for the event are $28, $24 and $22. Contributing series sponsors United University Professions (UUP) and TIAA-CREF, along with the UB Alumni Association and the UB Office of Donor Relations, are offering discount vouchers that provide significant cost savings on ticket purchases.

For more information, visit the DSS website.