In the spirit of Dr. King’s human rights positions, the 17th annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Lecture in Social Justice will feature a conversation with four prominent Penn alumni on topics related to the state of our union and today’s struggles for social justice. The Center for Africana Studies is delighted that Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project; Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice; Amber Hikes, executive director of the Office of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia; and Marc Morial, president and chief executive officer of the National Urban League, have agreed to participate in the program, which will be moderated by Camille Z. Charles, Director of the Center for Africana Studies and Professor of Sociology, Africana Studies, and Education.
To register, go to cfasmlk2018.eventbrite.com.
In partnership with the Center for Africana Studies, the Black Alumni Society and the Annenberg School are co-sponsoring this program.
Alumni Speaker Bios
Judith Browne Dianis has an extensive background in civil rights litigation and advocacy in the areas of voting, education, housing, and employment. She has protected the rights of people of color in the midst of some of the greatest civil rights crises of our modern times, including in Florida after the 2000 election and in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. She is also a pioneer in the movement to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline in school districts. Dianis has authored groundbreaking reports on the issue, and Advancement Project’s work has significantly decreased student suspensions and arrests in Denver, Baltimore, and Florida. Dianis serves on the Board of FairTest, and she is a founding Convener of the Forum for Education and Democracy. In recognition of Dianis’ work on these issues, she was recently named a Black Male Achievement Social Innovator by the Leadership & Sustainability Institute. In addition, Dianis has established herself as an expert in voting rights. She stopped the Republican National Committee from engaging in voter suppression in Ohio and requiring Virginia in 2008 to ensure equitable allocation of voting machines. As Advancement Project has continued its aggressive voter protection efforts effectively blocking voter suppression efforts in 2012, Dianis has also been leading an effort to develop a campaign to secure an explicit right to vote in the U.S. Constitution. In 2013, she was awarded a Prime Movers Fellowship for trailblazing social movement leaders to further develop this campaign. Before joining Advancement Project at its inception in 1999, Dianis served as the Managing Attorney in the Washington, D.C. office of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. She is a graduate of Columbia University School of Law, was awarded a Skadden Fellowship, served as a Tobias Simon Eminent Scholar at Florida State University Law School, and as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center. She was named one of the “Thirty Women to Watch” by Essence Magazine and has written and commented extensively in the media about race, voting rights, and education issues, appearing often on MSNBC, CNN, BET, TVOne and various radio shows.
Iván Espinoza-Madrigal is an expert in legal protections for people of color and immigrants. He has filed and won dozens of life-changing and law-changing cases across the country, and he advises federal and state policymakers on the legal needs of marginalized communities. His work is regularly featured in publications such as the New York Times. A sought-after thought leader, Espinoza-Madrigal speaks nationally on racial justice and immigration issues. He often focuses on the legal needs of people who identify across intersecting lines of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and immigration status. Before joining the Lawyers’ Committee, Espinoza-Madrigal was the Legal Director of the Center for HIV Law and Policy (CHLP), supervising a legal team on national projects using HIV as a lens to address racial justice, criminal justice, immigration, and public health issues. Before joining CHLP, he worked at Lambda Legal, where he developed an initiative to address the legal needs of LGBT and HIV-affected people of color and low-income people. He also focused on marriage equality cases. Previously, he handled MALDEF’s immigrant rights docket. He served as counsel in Friendly House v. Whiting, a challenge to Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, SB 1070, and was a member of the legal team that successfully defended Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder, 557 U.S. 193 (2009), a landmark U.S. Supreme Court voting rights case. Before joining MALDEF, he was an associate at Fried Frank LLP. At the firm, he worked on the legal defense of an innovative municipal program in New Haven, Connecticut, that provides undocumented immigrants with an ID that allows them to receive city services they would not otherwise be able to access. Similar programs have now been rolled out in San Francisco and New York – victories for immigrant rights that would not have been possible without the precedent set in New Haven. Espinoza-Madrigal clerked in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. A summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, he received a Juris Doctor from NYU School of Law, where he was a Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar.
Amber Hikes is the executive director of the Office of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia, where she develops policy and serves as the principal advisor to Mayor Jim Kenney on issues that affect the LGBTQ community. Hikes joined the Office of LGBT Affairs in March 2017 and has set her sights on fighting and advocating for the most vulnerable populations within the LGBTQ community—specifically youth, transgender people, and people of color. Her personal philosophy guides the Office’s mission and approach: when we fight for the lives of the most marginalized, we, in turn, liberate ourselves. Hikes previously served as director of the Upward Bound Program, both at California State University, Long Beach and the University of Pennsylvania, where she directed a federally funded program to bring education and resources to low-income, underserved students. Deeply rooted in the Philadelphia LGBTQ community, she has served on the boards of the William Way LGBT Community Center, Identity Kit Project, Mountain Meadow Camp, and was a long-time organizer for the Philadelphia Dyke March. She organized numerous events to benefit LGBTQ organizations including GALAEI, Mazzoni Center, Equality PA, Equality Forum, Attic Youth Center, and ACLU-PA, among many others. Hikes received numerous awards, including the William Way Community Center Corporate Partner of the Year Award (2015), Philadelphia Magazine Best of Philly (2014), Philadelphia Pride Grand Marshal (2013), and Delaware Valley Legacy Fund Heroes Award (2012). Hikes believes in employing an intersectional lens in all aspects of community work and leans daily on the words of sister Audre Lorde: “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle, because we do not live single-issue lives.”
Marc Morial began his career at age 15 as an entrepreneur. Then, he became one of the youngest lawyers, at age 26, to argue and win a major case before the Louisiana Supreme Court. Morial served on the adjunct faculty of Xavier University in Louisiana, where he taught Constitutional Law and Business Law. As a Louisiana State Senator, Morial was named Legislative Rookie of the Year, Education Senator of the Year, and Environmental Senator of the Year. As Mayor of New Orleans, Morial's leadership led to violent crimes and murders dropping by 60%, the unemployment rate being cut in half, and New Orleans’ poverty rate falling. The city’s economy experienced its most dramatic growth in over 20 years, and New Orleans won the All-American City Award in 1996 for the first time in 50 years, as well as the prestigious City Livability Award, and finished first in the National Night Out Against Crime Competition on two occasions. He was elected by his peers as President of the bi-partisan U.S. Conference of Mayors. Morial has been President of the National Urban League since 2003, creating initiatives such as the Urban Youth Empowerment Program to assist young adults in securing sustainable jobs, and Entrepreneurship Centers in 5 cities to help the growth of small businesses. Also, Morial created the National Urban League Empowerment Fund, which has pumped almost $200 million into urban impact businesses including minority business through both debt and equity investments. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Economics and African American Studies, he also holds a law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., as well as honorary degrees from Xavier University, Wilberforce University, and the University of South Carolina Upstate. He serves as an Executive Committee member of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the Black Leadership Forum, and Leadership 18, and is a Board Member of the Muhammad Ali Center and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. He has been recognized as one of the 100 most influential Black Americans by Ebony Magazine, as well as one of the Top 50 Nonprofit Executives by the Nonprofit Times.