Aug. 28, 2014. Leaders of the social justice, civil disobedience and civil rights movements will speak during the 2014-15 Forum Series at Appalachian State University.
The series theme is “The Civil Rights Act After 50 Years: Is There Justice for All Now?” Morris Dees will present the talk “With Justice for All” Wednesday, Sept. 17. Timothy DeChristopher will speak on “A Movement with Soul” Monday, Oct. 20, and Dr. Mary Frances Berry will present “Whatever Happened to the Civil Rights Movement?” on Monday, March 23, 2015.
The son of cotton farmers, Dees worked as a young boy in the fields with blacks, witnessing first-hand social and economic deprivation and Jim Crow treatment at its worse.
After graduating from law school, he began taking controversial civil rights cases and formed the Southern Poverty Law Center, along with Julian Bond and Joseph Levin, in 1970. Dees won a series of groundbreaking civil rights cases that helped integrate government and public institutions and cripple some of America’s most notorious white supremacist hate groups.
He was named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America by the National Law Journal in 2006. He is the author of “A Season For Justice,” “Hate on Trial: The Case Against America’s Most Dangerous Neo-Nazi” and “Gathering Storm: America’s Militia Threat.”
DeChristopher’s work as a wilderness guide while in college led to his work as a climate activist and co-founder of the environmental group Peaceful Uprising, a volunteer-based climate action group committed to defending a livable future from the fossil fuel industry.
He is best known for his protest of a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auction, when he won 22,500 acres parcels of land with no intention to pay the $1.8 million he had bid for them. He served 21 months in prison as a result, but also gained national attention for his civil disobedience. Rolling Stone named DeChristopher “America’s Most Creative Climate Criminal” and he was named Utne Reader magazine’s “2011 Person of the Year.”
Dr. Mary Frances Berry
For more than four decades, Berry has been one of the most recognized and respected voices in the nation’s civil rights, gender equality and social justice movements. As chair of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, Berry led the charge for equal rights and liberties for all Americans through four Presidential administrations.
A prolific author, Berry’s books cover a range of subjects, from the history of constitutional racism in America to the politics of parenthood. Her 2010 book, “Power in Words: The Stories behind Barack Obama’s Speeches, from the State House to the White House,” offers insight and historical context of President Obama’s most memorable addresses.
Berry is the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania.
The Forum Series is sponsored by the University Forum Committee and University College with additional support from the Joan Askew Vail Endowment and the Office of Multicultural Student Development.