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Civil rights advocate Mary Frances Berry to speak at William Jewell
Contact: Rob Eisele816-415-7574
September 5, 2008

The 2008 presidential election takes center stage as civil rights advocate Dr. Mary Frances Berry will address “Race, Politics, and the 2008 Election” at 7:30 p.m. October 1 in John Gano Memorial Chapel on the William Jewell College campus in Liberty, Mo. The public is invited to attend the free event, which is the 2008 Peggy Kern Lecture on Women and Society, part of the college’s “Perspectives on the Common Good” lecture series.

Berry is the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania where she teaches the history of American law and advises graduate students in legal history and African American history.

President Carter appointed Berry as a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In 1993, President Clinton named her Chairperson of the Civil Rights Commission, a position she held until 2004. During her tenure, the commission issued a number of significant reports, including findings on the 2000 Florida presidential election, police practices in New York City, environmental justice, church burnings and conditions on Indian reservations.

Berry’s fight for justice has taken her to Capetown, South Africa, where she met Nelson Mandela, and even to jail as she protested the oppressive South African government. Her peers elected her vice president of the American Historical Association and president of the Organization of American Historians. Among her numerous awards for public service and scholarly activities is one from the Women’s Hall of Fame, which named her one of the women of the century.

The Peggy Kern Lecture on Women and Society is named in memory of the mother of Jewell alumna Penny Kern White of the William Jewell class of 1968. This annual lecture honors Mrs. Peggy Kern, who lived through the Great Depression, sent a husband and son to war, developed and ran a successful business, served as an active community volunteer, and was a longstanding member of the First Baptist Church of Independence.

“Mrs. Kern valued education,” said Dr. Chad Jolly, vice president for advancement at the college. “The lecture established in her memory is committed to addressing contemporary topics and subjects that encourage the betterment of society and women in particular, and is designed to foster greater awareness of issues that influence women’s lives. The annual lecture celebrates Mrs. Kern’s life and is a living memorial of her commitment to helping others.”

William Jewell College is committed to bringing together talented students and gifted faculty mentors within a vibrant community sparked by a rigorous and intentional liberal arts curriculum. A full range of personal and professional development experiences are presented by the selective national liberal arts college’s location within the Kansas City metroplex of 1.5 million.

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