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Civil Rights Attorney to Deliver MLK Keynote Talk

Jan. 26 address by Michelle Alexander, celebrated attorney, advocate and scholar

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Celebrated civil rights attorney, advocate and legal scholar Michelle Alexander -- who wrote that many of the gains of the civil rights movement have been undermined by the mass incarceration of black Americans in the war on drugs -- and Carol Moseley Braun, the first African-American woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate (in 1992), will be the featured keynote speakers at Northwestern University’s 2015 commemoration of the life and legacy of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

The 10-day 2015 celebration will begin Saturday, Jan. 17 with a Day of Service. Northwestern students will engage in various service projects throughout Evanston and the Chicago area and reflect on their experiences.

Northwestern has suspended classes Monday, Jan. 19 on the Evanston and Chicago campuses for a University-wide, full-day observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. That evening Moseley Braun will speak at 7 p.m. at the Alpha Phi Alpha Candlelight Vigil at Alice Millar Chapel. An Eva Jefferson Day event will be held that day from 8:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. for Chicago Public School students and will include arts, crafts and a discussion about the legacy of Martin Luther King.

Evanston campus observances will conclude Jan. 26 with an evening program at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall featuring a keynote address by Michelle Alexander and music and performances from Northwestern student groups. All events are free and open to the public, unless noted.

Moseley Braun is a former candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. She served her country as Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, United States Senator from Illinois, Cook County Executive Officer, Illinois State Representative and United States Attorney. She also was the first permanent female member of the Senate Finance Committee. A women’s and civil rights activist, she transitioned to the private sector in 2001 after nearly 30 years in public service. In 2005, she founded Good Foods Organics, a premium, Certified USDA Organic and Biodynamic products company. For more, visit

Alexander holds a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University. Prior to joining the Kirwan

Institute, Alexander was an associate professor of law at Stanford Law School, where she directed the civil rights clinics. In 2005, she won a Soros Justice Fellowship, which supported the writing of her highly-lauded first book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” For more, visit

Additional Evanston campus events

An MLK Day Staged Reading of “The Gift Horse,” will take place at 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 19, at the Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus. Penned by Northwestern alumna Lydia R. Diamond (Broadway's “Stick Fly”), “The Gift Horse” explores the complexities of human interaction in love, commitment and tragedy and celebrates the resilience of the soul. The event is free and open to the public. RSVP here.

A Jan. 19 Student Oratorical Contest will take place at 1 p.m. at Norris University Center’s McCormick Auditorium, 1999 Campus Drive. Three contest finalists will recite their oration inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. There will be entertainment between orations and a small reception to follow. The winner will have the opportunity to recite their oration at the MLK commemoration keynote event on Jan. 26 at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. The event is free and open to the public. 

A Jan. 30 Harambee (Swahili for “pull together”), from 7 to 10 p.m., in Norris University Center’s Louis Room, 1999 Campus Drive. The event will feature free food, performances and presentations.

For more information about these and other Evanston campus events, visit

Chicago campus events

The following events will take place on or near Northwestern’s Chicago campus.  For more information, visit

• DREAM Week Reception, 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 21, Northwestern Law Atrium, 375 East Chicago Ave., Chicago. Co-sponsored by the Black Law Students Association.

• Crime Scene Chicago 2015, “Let Hope Rise,” A Collaboraction Theatrical Production, 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 21, Thorne Auditorium, 375 East Chicago Ave., Chicago. The Collaboraction theater group’s production couples nonfiction source material such as interviews, articles and online comments with re-enactments of true Chicago crimes to raise critical questions surrounding segregation, poverty, police, the news media and popular culture. A reception will precede the event, and a facilitated discussion will follow the play. Tickets are free, but RSVPs are required.

• “Taking the First Step: A Panel Discussion on Institutional Mistrust,” noon to 1:15 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 22, Rubloff Building, Room 150, 375 East Chicago Ave., Chicago. Panelists will discuss disenfranchised communities’ distrust of legal and health care systems and strategies to better connect those communities to needed legal and health care services. Panelists will include: Jakita Baldwin, a second year Northwestern medical student, Feinberg School of Medicine; Andrea D. Lyon, dean and professor of law, Valparaiso University Law School; Dr. Linda Rae Murray, chief medical officer, Cook County Department of Public Health; and Northwestern alumnus Kendrick Washington, assistant general counsel at the Board of Education for the City of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools. The event is co-sponsored by the Black Law Students Association. Lunch will be provided.

• Service Activity, Saturday, Jan. 24, will be held at various times and locations. RSVP at