January 7, 1999
Vol. 18 No. 7

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    University plans its King commemoration

    Mary Frances Berry, chair of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, will deliver the keynote address during the University’s annual observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 18. She will speak at noon in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

    Berry is also the Geraldine R. Segal professor of American social thought at the University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches history and law.

    In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed Berry a commissioner on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. Berry received national attention when she subsequently was fired by President Ronald Reagan for criticizing his civil rights policies. Berry sued and won reinstatement in federal district court. President Bill Clinton appointed her chair of the commission in 1993.

    Fighting for democracy in apartheid-era South Africa, Berry was one of the founders of the Free South Africa Movement. She participated in protests at the South African Embassy and was arrested and jailed several times.

    Berry was born in Nashville, Tenn., and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Howard University. She later received a doctorate of history and a juris doctorate from the University of Michigan.

    Berry has authored six books, including Long Memory: The Black Experience in America (with co-author John Blassingame) and Black Resistance/White Law: A History of Constitutional Racism in America.

    In addition to Berry’s address, the King Day program will include Korean drumming by Loose Roots, the Make a Joyful Noise and Soul Umoja choirs, and other performances by members of the University community.