American Bar Association Returns to Epicenter of Civil Rights Movement to Explore “Myth of a Post-Racial Society”
WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 18, 2010 — The American Bar Association Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities will meet in Memphis, Tenn., Oct. 21 – 23 for its annual fall conference, and – new this year — the section will issue a “call to action” to invigorate lawyers, law students, high school students and journalists to renew their commitment to civil rights.
“When it comes to civil rights in the United States, we acknowledge the progress over the past 40 years, but we chose our conference theme — More to Overcome: Civil Rights in the 21st Century — specifically to inspire the next generation of civil rights leaders,” said IRR Section Chair C. Elisia Frazier. “In order to fully achieve our mission of true equality and justice, we have miles to go before we rest.”
The conference’s showcase program – “Debunking the Myth of a Post-Racial Society” – features John Payton, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Prof. Gloria Browne-Marshall of John Jay College of Criminal Justice; Georgina Verdugo, Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and civil rights attorney Myron Dean Quon. The program takes place Oct. 21 at 1:45 p.m.
Working in collaboration with the Young Lawyers Division of the Memphis Bar Association, the ABA section will present a special half-day program, “They Had A Dream Too” for 100 students from Ridgeway and Douglas High Schools on Oct. 21 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the National Civil Rights Museum. The program will educate the students on the courageous acts of young people during the Civil Rights Movement and inspire them to become future leaders in their communities. Student winners of a writing contest entitled, “What sacrifices are you willing to make for a cause you believe in?” will read their essays at the start of this event.
Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton will welcome attendees to the conference Oct. 21 at 1 p.m. at the Peabody Hotel, 149 Union Avenue. U.S. Congressman Steve Cohen will give the keynote address — “More to Overcome: An Action Agenda for Lawyers and the Legal Profession” — at the conference luncheon, Oct. 22, noon – 1:30 p.m.
Featured speakers Hon. D’Army Bailey (Ret.), co-founder of the National Civil Rights Museum, and Rev. Samuel “Billy” Kyles, of Monumental Baptist Church and one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s aides who witnessed his murder, will offer thoughts during the program, “The Civil Rights Movement and Its Heroes: A Look Back at Lessons Learned,” Oct. 22, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.
A complete list of programming and speakers can be found online.
Short program descriptions appear below:
“Speaking Freely, Living Securely: An Update on Freedom of Speech in the Post- 9/11 Era” will address the question of how to achieve a balance between freedom of speech and national security. The panel will consider issues ranging from the U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of First Amendment arguments against the “material support” provision of federal law to restrictions on the free speech rights of lawyers representing Guantanamo detainees.
Oct. 22, 10:15 – 11:45 a.m.
“Who Owns Your Genes” will explore the legal and ethical rights of patients whose genetic material is used in medical research and the obligations of researchers to obtain adequate and informed consent, particularly when patients are members of vulnerable populations.
Oct. 22, 1:45 – 3:15 p.m.
“Continuing Racial Discrimination in Jury Selection: What Should be Done About this Pervasive Problem” will explore the indifference to prosecutors’ race-based exclusions of prospective jurors. Executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, Bryan Stevenson, will discuss his organization’s June 2010 report on this subject, and will join other panelists looking at the report’s implications. There will be a special focus on Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi.
Oct. 21, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
“The Voting Rights Amendment and the 2010 Census: Key Enforcement Provisions and Recent Court Decisions” is a CLE program that will focus on the impact on contested issues of felon disenfranchisement, current constitutional challenges to the VRARA, early voting, and the impact of the 2010 Census on restriction of the protections of the Voting Rights Act to citizen voting age population and redistricting, all of which have the potential for a discriminatory impact on racial and ethnic minority American voters.
Oct. 22, 9:00 – 10 a.m.
“Confronting Hate in the 21st Century — Domestic and International Legal Perspectives” will be an interactive workshop featuring group exercises and case studies where participants will explore legal and non-legal aspects of hate crimes. Participants will gain an appreciation of hate crimes’ community impact and will be familiarized with key features and indicators of hate crimes, and the types of individuals who commit them.
Oct. 21, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
“The Slave Next Door: Civil Remedies for Litigating Human Trafficking Cases in the U.S.” will explore why only one case since Congress added a civil cause of action to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, intending to compensate victims and deter perpetrators in 2003, has been litigated through trial successfully. The workshop’s speakers, each of whom have experience litigating these cases, will explain the statutory framework for recovery, the challenges involved in bringing these claims forward, emerging areas of law and practical lessons learned.
Oct. 22, 9 – 10 a.m.
“The Erosion of Constitutional Rights and Liberties in the Federal Criminal Justice System” will focus on the erosion of constitutional safeguards in federal criminal practice. Topics addressed will include the decimation of the presumption of innocence by the enactment of pre-trial detention statutes extending beyond violent crimes.
Oct. 22, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.
“A Failure in Oversight?: The Social and Environmental Impacts of the Gulf Oil Spill” will explore the regulatory breakdown, the response and the environmental impact of the spill, both in the short-term and long-term.
Oct. 22, 9 – 10 a.m.
“The Third Rail of Politics? U.S. Immigration Policy at a Crossroads” will examine the many challenges facing the U.S. federal immigration system, from protecting the security of our homeland to adjudicating and providing legal status to eligible non-citizens. The panel will also address the constitutionality and impact on civil liberties of the growing trend of states and localities to implement “Arizona-style” reforms.
Oct. 22, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.
“Beyond ‘Mean Girls’: What Parents, Students, and the Legal Profession Can Do About School Bullying and Harassment” will examine the growing problem of harassment and discrimination of students and increase of cyber bullying. Panelists will provide an overview of the problem, the various laws and regulations that offer recourse for students who have experienced harassment or discrimination, as well as a discussion of other efforts being undertaken to address the problem.
Oct. 23, 9:30- 11 a.m.
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.
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