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 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.


A Jan. 19 Student Oratorical contest will take place at Norris University Center’s McCormick Auditorium.


A Jan. 30 Harambee (Swahili for “pull together”), from 7 to 10 p.m., in Norris University Center’s Louis Room, will feature free food, performances and presentations. For Evanston campus event details, visit www.northwestern.edu/mlk/program-ev.html.


Michelle 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 www.northwestern.edu/mlk/speaker-ev.html.


Carol 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 www.northwestern.edu/mlk/speaker-ev.html.


Chicago campus events


The following events will take place on or near Northwestern’s Chicago campus.  For more information, visit www.northwestern.edu/mlk/program-ch.html.


Tuesday, Jan. 20: Evening at the Movies, featuring “Selma” at the AMC River East movie theater. The DREAM Committee will subsidize the full ticket price for the movie and host a discussion afterward. (This event is for Northwestern community members only.)

Wednesday, Jan. 21: DREAM Week Reception/Crime Scene Chicago: “Let Hope Rise,” a theatrical production by Collaboraction theater group. A reception will precede the evening event, and a facilitated discussion will follow the play.

Thursday, Jan. 22: A lunchtime panel discussion on Institutional Mistrust begins at noon. 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.

Saturday, Jan. 24: Service Activity. (Various times and locations)


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