Date January 10, 2024
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Civil rights lawyer Sherrilyn Ifill to deliver 2024 Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture at Brown

The former president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund will share insights with the University community and the public during a presentation on Thursday, Feb. 15.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect a change in the location of the event.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Civil rights attorney and legal scholar Sherrilyn Ifill will deliver Brown University’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture, which honors the late leader’s legacy and his visits to Brown’s campus in the 1960s.

Ifill, who served as president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund from 2013 to 2022, was the second woman to direct the organization, and she provided transformational leadership during intense moments of the nation’s racial reckoning. She will address the audience at Brown on Thursday, Feb. 15, in a talk titled “Reimagining a New American Democracy.”

“A scholar and activist, Sherrilyn Ifill is a leading voice in civil rights and voting rights,” said Sylvia Carey-Butler, Brown’s vice president for institutional equity and diversity. “Her insights will be invaluable to us as a campus community as we enter the 2024 election cycle.”

In June 2023, Ifill was appointed the Vernon Jordan Endowed Chair in Civil Rights at Howard University, where she is working to launch the 14th Amendment Center for Law and Democracy. Previously, she has received numerous honorary degrees and was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2021. She is a frequent expert commentator on matters related to racial reconciliation, reparations and voting rights.

“Given her extensive background in addressing gender equity, voter suppression, racial discrimination and other societal inequities within her work, Sherrilyn Ifill is well-positioned to provide analysis to educate our campus community,” Carey-Butler said.

Organized by the University’s Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, the Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture will take place on Thursday, Feb. 15, at 4:30 p.m. in Brown's Salomon Center for Teaching. The event is free and open to the public.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture was established at Brown in 1996, with former New York City Mayor David Dinkins as the inaugural speaker. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. visited the University several times in the 1960s — including in April 1967, less than one year before his death, when he delivered an impassioned speech on the Vietnam War and civil rights in America.

“Our annual celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King is an opportunity to pause and reflect on how far we’ve come as a nation in advancing equity and justice — and a reminder of the work that lies ahead for us as a community and a nation,” Carey-Butler said.