Jan 19, 2012    #004
Contact: Wandra Brooks Green

Michelle Alexander is keynote speaker for MLK program

Division of Diversity sponsors scholar continuing the work of Dr. Martin Luther King

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Michelle Alexander - a civil rights lawyer, advocate and legal scholar - will be the keynote speaker for the University of Missouri-Kansas City 2012 Fourth Annual MLK Keynote Lecture. The lecture is sponsored by the Division of Diversity, Access and Equity.

The event will take place at 6 p.m., Friday, Jan. 27 at the UMKC Student Union Multipurpose Room (4th Floor), 5100 Cherry Street. This event is free and open to the public.

"Michelle Alexander is a scholar who recognizes the importance of Dr. King's work and continues to strive towards his goals of equity," said Kristi Ryujin, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Diversity Initiatives. "In her book, Alexander discusses the judicial system and highlights the disenfranchised, largely men of color who are relegated to a life of powerlessness."

Alexander currently 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. She is a recipient of a 2005 Soros Justice Fellowship of the Open Society Institute; served as director of the Racial Justice Project for the ACLU of Northern California; and directed the Civil Rights Clinic at Stanford Law School.

Her book, "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness," challenges the conventional wisdom that with the election of Barack Obama as president, our nation has "triumphed over race." Alexander argues that mass incarceration in America functions as a system of racial control similar to the manner in which Jim Crow once operated.

Alexander's work draws attention to the racial disparity that exists in the criminal justice system, noting that "Race plays a major role indeed, a defining role in the current system, but not because of what is commonly understood as old-fashioned, hostile bigotry."

She is a graduate of Stanford Law School and Vanderbilt University. Following law school, she clerked for Justice Harry A. Blackmun on the United States Supreme Court and for Chief Judge Abner Mikva on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

According to Ryujin, the Martin Luther King Keynote Lecture was established in recognition of the important contributions and legacy of this civil rights leader. She added that Dr. King's efforts to create legal and social equity has had a profound effect on current policy and social justice issues and serves as a reminder of the work our country must do.

About UMKC

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 15,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience. For more information about UMKC, visit You can also find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and watch us on YouTube.


This information is available to people with speech or hearing impairments by calling Relay Missouri at (800) 735-2966 (TT) or (800) 735-2466 (voice).


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