The Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Series was established in 1985 at Vanderbilt University as a celebration of the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorating Rev. Dr. King’s life and legacy, the University community will gather together on this national holiday for a series of programs including: participation in the city-wide march, community service, educational forums and lectures. In honoring Rev. Dr. King, Vanderbilt University affirms its own commitment to the goals of peace and racial justice to which Rev. Dr. King dedicated his life.
MONDAY, JANUARY 16, 2017
Revolutionizing Our American Myths
We are in an agonizing national crisis because a complex of profound problems has intersected in an explosive mixture. . . .If we look honestly at the realities of our national life, it is clear that we are not marching forward; we are groping and stumbling; we are divided and confused. Our moral values and spiritual confidence sink. . . . It is forcing America to face all its interrelated flaws—racism, poverty, militarism, and materialism. (MLK Jr., Testament of Hope, 315).
Come and explore with us the intersections of our American ideals.
- What do justice and democracy mean for the day-to-day lives of contemporary Americans?
- How do our beliefs about time, legislation and the “self-made man” impact what we think of as fair and democratic?
- Do people of different races, genders and sexual identities experience the same degrees of justice and democracy?
- How are the ideals of justice and democracy expressed in the context of policing and prosecution, privilege and conquest?
- How do widespread fears, such as religious fear; fear of the stranger; even fear of the neighbor impact American beliefs about what is just and what is democratic?
- What is the meaning and value of diversity today?
- How might we become and remain “Woke”?
Keynote Address by Prof. Kimberlé Crenshaw
Kimberlé Crenshaw, Professor of Law at UCLA and Columbia Law School, is a leading authority in the area of Civil Rights, Black feminist legal theory, and race, racism and the law. Her work has been foundational in two fields of study that have come to be known by terms that she coined: Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality. Crenshaw’s articles have appeared in the Harvard Law Review, National Black Law Journal, Stanford Law Review and Southern California Law Review. She is the founding coordinator of the Critical Race Theory Workshop, and the co-editor of the volume, Critical Race Theory: Key Documents That Shaped the Movement. Crenshaw has lectured widely on race matters, addressing audiences across the country as well as in Europe, India, Africa and South America.
A specialist on race and gender equality, she has facilitated workshops for human rights activists in Brazil and in India, and for constitutional court judges in South Africa. Her groundbreaking work on “Intersectionality” has traveled globally and was influential in the drafting of the equality clause in the South African Constitution. Crenshaw authored the background paper on Race and Gender Discrimination for the United Nation’s World Conference on Racism, served as the Rapporteur for the conference’s Expert Group on Gender and Race Discrimination, and coordinated NGO efforts to ensure the inclusion of gender in the WCAR Conference Declaration. She is a leading voice in calling for a gender-inclusive approach to racial justice interventions, having spearheaded the Why We Can’t Wait Campaign and co-authored Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected, and Say Her Name: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women.
Crenshaw has worked extensively on a variety of issues pertaining to gender and race in the domestic arena including violence against women, structural racial inequality, and affirmative action. She has served as a member of the National Science Foundation’s committee to research violence against women and has consulted with leading foundations, social justice organizations and corporations to advance their race and gender equity initiatives.
In 1996, she co-founded the African American Policy Forum to house a variety of projects designed to deliver research-based strategies to better advance social inclusion. Among the Forum’s projects are the Affirmative Action Research and Policy Consortium and the Multiracial Literacy and Leadership Initiative. In partnership with the Aspen Roundtable for Community Change, Crenshaw facilitated workshops on racial equity for hundreds of community leaders and organizations throughout the country. With the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, Crenshaw facilitates the Bellagio Project, an international network of scholars working in the field of social inclusion from five continents.. She formerly served as Committee Chair for the U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan to Promote Racial and Ethnic Equality, an initiative of the U.S. State Department. A founding member of the Women’s Media Initiative, Crenshaw writes for Ms. Magazine, the Nation and other print media, and has appeared as a regular commentator on “The Tavis Smiley Show,” NPR, and MSNBC.
In 2016, Crenshaw received an honorary doctorate degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice for her gender and racial justice advocacy work. She was also named the 2016 Fellows
Outstanding Scholar by the American Bar Foundation. In 2015, Crenshaw was featured in the Ebony Power 100, a list honoring the contemporary heroes of the black community, and was #1 on Ms. Magazine’s list of Feminist Heroes of 2015. She was also honored in March as one of Harvard Law School’s “Women Inspiring Change,” and the same month she was recognized by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education as one of the “Top 25 Women in Higher Education.” Twice awarded Professor of the Year at UCLA Law School, Crenshaw received the Lucy Terry Prince Unsung Heroine Award presented by the Lawyers’ Committee on Civil Rights Under Law, and the ACLU Ira Glasser Racial Justice Fellowship from 2005-07. Crenshaw has received the Fulbright Distinguished Chair for Latin America, the Alphonse Fletcher Fellowship, and was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University in 2009 and a Visiting Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy in 2010. Currently, Crenshaw is Director of the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies (CISPS) at Columbia Law School, which she founded in 2011, as well as the Centennial Professor at the LSE Gender Institute 2015-2018.
EDUCATION: J.D. Harvard; L.L.M. University of Wisconsin; B.A. Cornell University