Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
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About the Speaker
Sherrilyn Ifill served as the seventh president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) from 2013 to 2022 — the second woman to ever lead LDF — and currently serves as its president and director-counsel emeritus. In this role Ifill increased the visibility and engagement of the organization in litigating cutting-edge and urgent civil rights issues, elevating their decades-long leadership fighting voter suppression, inequity in education and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.
For over 20 years, Ifill taught at the University of Maryland School of Law and pioneered a series of law clinics focused on challenging legal barriers to the reentry of ex-offenders. Her 2007 book, “On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century,” was highly acclaimed, and credited with laying the foundation for contemporary conversations about lynching and reconciliation.
Ifill is a Distinguished Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School and serves as Ford Foundation Fellow at the Museum of Modern Art, leading a project focused on exploring the values of the 14th Amendment in artistic expression. Ifill was most recently appointed to be the Inaugural Vernon Jordan Endowed Chair in Civil Rights at Howard Law School, where she will launch the 14th Amendment Center for Law and Democracy.
About the Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. came to Brown University on multiple occasions in the 1960s, including an April 1967 visit less than one year before his death, where he delivered an impassioned speech on the Vietnam War and civil rights in the U.S. The Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture, organized by the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, was established at Brown in 1996, with former New York Mayor David Dinkins as the inaugural speaker.
Past lecturers have included author and activist Cornel West; activist and educator Angela Davis; President and CEO of the National Urban League Hugh B. Price; community therapist, poet and filmmaker Lee Mun Wah; Professor Emerita of Emory University and President Emerita of Spelman College Johnetta B. Cole; Professor of Law at Harvard Law School Randall Kennedy; President and CEO of the United Negro College Fund Michael Lomax; and Chicana activist and author Elizabeth Martinez.