Published January 17, 2023
Sherrilyn Ifill, civil rights attorney and former president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), will speak on Feb. 16 as UB’s 47th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Speaker.
Her talk, part of UB’s Distinguished Speakers Series, will take place at 7 p.m. in the Center for the Arts, North Campus.
As the leader of the LDF from 2013-22, Ifill — now president and director-counsel emeritus — increased the visibility and engagement of the organization in litigating cutting-edge and urgent civil rights issues, and elevating the organization’s decades-long leadership fighting voter suppression, inequity in education and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.
For more than 20 years, Ifill taught civil procedure and constitutional law to thousands of law students, and pioneered a series of law clinics, including one of the earliest law clinics in the country focused on challenging legal barriers to the reentry of ex-offenders, at the University of Maryland School of Law in Baltimore. A prolific scholar, Ifill has published academic articles in leading law journals, and op-eds and commentaries in major newspapers. Her highly acclaimed 2007 book, “On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century,” is credited with laying the foundation for contemporary conversations about lynching and reconciliation.
The recipient of numerous honorary degrees, Ifill was recently named one of TIME magazine’s Women of the Year. She was named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in 2021, one of Glamour magazine’s Women of the Year in 2020 and Attorney of the Year by The American Lawyer in 2020. She is a recipient of a 2021 Spirit of Excellence Award from the American Bar Association, and recently received the ABA’s Thurgood Marshall Award; in October, she will receive the prestigious Brandeis Medal, named for Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis and awarded by the Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville to recipients whose lives reflect a commitment to individual liberty, concern for the disadvantaged and public service.
Ifill’s lecture is presented in part by the UB Minority Faculty and Staff Association; contributing lecture sponsors are the National Federation for Just Communities of Western New York and the UB STEM diversity programs
Tickets for Ifill’s lecture range from $30-$50 and can be purchased online through Ticketmaster or in person at the Center for the Arts box office from noon to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays. Information on how UB students may access tickets will be provided online before each lecture.