WASHINGTON, April 15, 2016 — The American Bar Association Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice will celebrate the Bar’s 50 years of work and role of the legal profession in addressing civil rights and social justice issues, with a half-day event on April 21 in Washington, D.C.

What:    50th Anniversary Celebration: Honoring Our Past, Charting Our Future
              Sponsored by the ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice

When:   Thursday, April 21  

Where:   American University Washington College of Law
               4300 Nebraska Ave. NW
               Washington, D.C. 20016

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Section and the creation of the Office for Civil Rights–– a sub-agency of the U.S. Department of Education–– tasked with ensuring compliance with federal civil rights laws, including the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 that promoted equality in all federally funded programs and activities and outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

The half-day event will feature keynote remarks by ABA President Paulette Brown and Dahlia Lithwick, Slate senior editor and legal correspondent; a screening of a documentary on the integration crisis of 1963; and the presentation of the ABA Civil Rights Hero Award.

Brown will give the opening address at the noon luncheon. Lithwick will deliver the luncheon keynote remarks at 12:30 p.m.

Following the luncheon, a screening of the documentary “Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment” featuring John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy on the integration crisis in 1963 during a meeting at the White House–– the day before the confrontation of Alabama Gov. George Wallace over the admission of two black students to the University of Alabama––will be held from 1:45-2:50 p.m. After the screening, nationally recognized civil rights lawyers and bar leaders will lead a panel discussion on the role of the legal profession in the areas of civil and voting rights, women’s rights, human rights, AIDS and health rights, gender equity and other issues of social justice from 3-5:30 p.m.

At a 5:30 p.m. reception the ABA Civil Rights Hero Award will be presented to:

  • Thomas Perez, U.S. Secretary of Labor

  • Marian Wright Edelman, first African-American woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar

  • Marcia Greenberger, co-founder of the National Women’s Law Center

  • Mark D. Agrast, executive director and executive vice president of the American Society of International Law

  • Vivian Malone, posthumously, one of the first two African-American students to enroll at the University of Alabama in 1963 and the university's first African-American graduate

  • Esther Lardent, posthumously, founder the Pro Bono Institute

The award recognizes sustained commitment to civil rights and social justice by providing leadership or service to the legal profession in protecting and advancing human rights, civil liberties, and social justice.

This event is free and open to members of the press. For media credentialing, please contact Maria Gutierrez at 202-662-1091 or Maria.Gutierrez@americanbar.org.

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