SMU experts join KERA for Freedom Summer 50th anniversary film preview & panel discussion Tuesday, June 17, 2014

civil rights

SMU experts join KERA for Freedom Summer 50th anniversary film preview & panel discussion Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Freedom Riders Julia Aaron and David Dennis

Julia Aaron, left, and David Dennis participated in a Freedom Ride from from Montgomery, Alabama, to Jackson, Mississippi in 1961. The Freedom Riders paved the way for Freedom Summer student volunteers. Photo credit: Paul Schutzer via ‘Freedom Riders’ c/o PBS

During the summer of 1964, more than 700 student volunteers joined with thousands of organizers and local African Americans to register new voters in Mississippi.

The violence that followed included the murders of three civil rights workers and the burning of dozens of churches, homes and community centers. Public outrage against these acts helped spur the U.S. Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In honor of Freedom Summer’s 50th anniversary, two SMU experts will join a former student activist and UNT law professor for KERA’s Freedom Summer Community Screening and Panel Discussion.

The screening and discussion take place 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 17, 2014 in KERA’s Community Room, 3000 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas. Admission is free; advance registration is required by 5:30 p.m. on the day. For details, contact engage@kera.org.

The event – which includes a preview of the June 24 PBS show “Voices of Freedom Summer” – is sponsored by KERA and the Embrey Family Foundation/SMU Embrey Human Rights Program with support from the South Dallas Cultural Center and the Dallas Faces Race think-tank.

“The racist issues civil rights activists confronted, primarily to ensure voting rights, aren’t just in the pages of history. They’re deeply entrenched to this day, but perhaps not as overtly visible,” says SMU Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin, event moderator.

Featured panelists include:

Ernie McMillan, a Dallas native and former member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Student Congress On Racial Equality (SCORE). McMillan was an integral part of Texas-based civil rights demonstrations that, although often successful, led to his imprisonment for more than three years.

Dennis Simon, SMU’s Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor of political science in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences and organizer of SMU’s Civil Rights Pilgrimage, now in its 10th year.

Cheryl Brown Wattley, a University of North Texas law professor who spent more than 21 years in private practice, primarily as a criminal defense attorney and civil rights litigator. At UNT she is director of Experiential Education and teach courses in professional skills, criminal law, and professionalism.

Written by Denise Gee

> Read the full story at SMU News

June 16, 2014|Calendar Highlights, News|

Civil rights legend to offer keynote in SMU symposium Sept. 6, 2013

Rev. James L. Lawson

Rev. James L. Lawson will give the keynote speech in a civil rights symposium at SMU Sept. 6, 2013.

On the heels of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, renowned civil rights and social justice leaders and scholars will be at SMU to discuss the future.

“The End of Civil Rights in America? Reflections on the Future of Economic Justice from the Perspectives of Law and Religion” takes place 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, in Karcher Auditorium, Storey Hall, in the SMU Law Quad.

Sponsored by SMU’s Perkins School of Theology and Dedman School of Law, the daylong symposium will focus on efforts to overcome economic injustices tied to racial inequality, and examine what work still needs to be done.

The keynote speaker will be Rev. James Lawson, a legendary civil rights activist who worked closely with King and was influential in shaping the movement’s nonviolent resistance strategy.

Symposium speakers and their presentations (with question-and-answer time) include:

  • Willie Baptist, Union Theological Seminary Poverty Initiative scholar-in-residence in New York City: “Reigniting Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign Today: From Civil Rights to Human Rights”
  • Jim Harrington, Austin attorney, founder-director of Texas Civil Rights Project and adjunct University of Texas School of Law instructor: “Private Actions to Enforce Civil Rights Laws”
  • John Martin, Dallas attorney: “Government Enforcement of Voting Rights Laws”
  • Evelyn L. Parker, SMU Perkins School of Theology associate dean for academic affairs and professor of practical theology: “Young Women and the Struggle for Economic Justice: A Litany of Issues”
  • Joerg Rieger, Perkins School of Theology Wendland-Cook Professor of Constructive Theology: “Why Both Race and Class Matter in Religion: Taking the Long View”
  • Eliot Shavin, attorney and SMU Dedman School of Law lecturer: “Wealth As a Suspect Classification and The Economic Bill of Rights”
  • Theodore Walker, Jr., SMU Perkins School of Theology associate professor of ethics and society: “Beyond Civil Rights to Economic Rights: Prescriptions from the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

The event is open to the public; admission is free for SMU students, staff and faculty. Registration is required and seating is limited. To register, contact Lisa Montes and include a name, e-mail address and phone number.

> Read more from SMU News

September 4, 2013|Calendar Highlights, News|

Living the dream: SMU celebrates MLK Day 2012 all week

SMU Celebrates Dream WeekSMU celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with Dream Week 2012 Jan. 16-19. Sponsored by the University’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, the annual observance features a variety of activities throughout the week, including opportunities for community service and a commemorative walk.

This year’s schedule includes the traditional Day of Service Monday, Jan. 16, with volunteer projects taking place at Children’s Medical Center, Dallas LIFE and the Genesis Women’s Shelter Thrift Store.

The Dream Week kickoff event is scheduled for noon-2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Commons. Featured speakers are Dennis Simon, Political Science, and Rick Halperin, Human Rights Education.

The University’s annual Unity Walk will take place at noon Wednesday, Jan. 18, starting at the Main Quad flagpole. SMU President R. Gerald Turner will offer remarks. That evening at 7:30 p.m., the SMU Women’s Center for Gender and Pride Initiatives will present a screening of Standing on My Sisters’ Shoulders in the Hughes-Trigg Forum. The award-winning documentary examines the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi in the 1950s and ’60s from the point of view of the women who lived it and helped lead it.

At 10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 19, the Willson Lecture Series of SMU’s Office of the Chaplain presents Daniel White Hodge speaking on “The Hostile Gospel: Seeking the Theological Sensibilities Within Hip-Hop Culture.” The lecture takes place in the Hughes-Trigg Forum followed by a brown-bag discussion at 11:30 a.m. in Hughes-Trigg Promenades A and B.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at SMU, March 17, 1966This week, SMU also recalls Dr. King’s speech to a standing-room-only crowd in McFarlin Auditorium on March 17, 1966. SMU News offers these related links:

> More information from SMU News

January 14, 2012|Calendar Highlights, News|

Birmingham bombing survivor Junie Collins Williams to speak at SMU Feb. 17

Junie Collins WilliamsJunie Collins Williams (pictured left) survived the infamous Alabama church bombing that killed one of her sisters and maimed another. Her story of survival – and the lessons she believes are important for younger generations – will be front and center during “Journey to Peace: An Eyewitness Account of the 1963 Birmingham Church Bombing.” The event takes place Thursday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall.

The lecture is free and open to the public and is sponsored by SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program in collaboration with SMU’s Association of Black Students. Williams’ visit is part of the University’s observance of Black History Month.

Birmingham church bombing victims Cynthia Wesley, Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair and Carol RobertsonAddie Mae Collins died with three other little girls (pictured right) in the bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church Sept. 15, 1963. The assault on the predominantly African American church was orchestrated by the Ku Klux Klan, who were outraged by the desegregation of Birmingham’s schools. Not only did Addie Mae perish, but Williams had to identify her body. Another sister, Sarah Jean Collins, lost an eye in the attack.

The last remaining terrorists responsible for the bombing were prosecuted in 2001, but Williams struggled with feelings of hatred for decades. She leaned on the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King to help accept a nonviolent stance. She also leaned on her family’s powerful belief in God – instilled in her at an early age – to help embrace forgiveness as an important guiding principle in life.

“I could have let this situation get the best of me, but through God’s work in me, I pushed my way through until what seemed to be a burden around my head was pushed off,” she says. “God took a day that was meant for evil and turned it around for the good of all.”

According to SMU Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin, hate crimes such as last year’s church burnings in east Texas have risen 8 percent since President Barack Obama was elected in 2008. That number continues to jump 4 percent each year, he says.

It’s obvious that America’s struggle with accepting human rights is not over, Halperin adds. “That’s the real message of (Williams’) visit. This country is nowhere near the fully accepting nation that it could become. It’s better, but better doesn’t mean sufficient.”

Williams, who recently moved to San Antonio, believes there is hope for healing in America: “I know, because I have been healed.”

Written by Denise Gee

> Read more from SMU News
> Find a complete schedule for SMU’s Black History Month 2011
> Visit SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program online
> Learn more about SMU diversity programs from Student Activities & Multicultural Student Affairs (SAMSA)

February 17, 2011|Calendar Highlights, News|
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