Civil rights lawyer and scholar Sherrilyn Ifill will visit Iowa State University on Jan. 25 to present “Reimagining a New American Democracy” for the 2024 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Lecture. The event, which will be at 6 p.m. in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union, will be a moderated conversation with Catt Center director Karen Kedrowski about civil rights, race, and the challenges facing American democracy. The event is free and open to the public.
Ifill served as president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), the nation’s premier civil rights law organization, from 2013-2022. She is currently a distinguished professor of practice at Harvard Law School. She was recently appointed to be the inaugural Vernon Jordan Endowed Chair in Civil Rights at Howard Law School, where she will launch the 14th Amendment Center for Law and Democracy. She also serves as Ford Foundation Fellow at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), leading a project focused on exploring the values of the 14th Amendment in artistic expression.
At the LDF, Ifill’s voice and analysis played a prominent role in shaping our national conversation about race and civil rights. She led the organization in groundbreaking litigation in the areas of voting rights, economic justice, and education, and took a prominent role in confronting police violence against unarmed Black people. Ifill raised the profile of LDF, growing the organization in staff, resources, and influence. Her strategic vision and counsel are highly sought after from leaders in government, business, law and academia. She continues to write scholarly articles and is currently completing a book about race and the current crisis in American democracy titled, “Is This America?” that will be published by Penguin Press in 2024.
Ifill graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in English and earned her J.D. from New York University School of Law. She is the recipient of numerous honorary doctorates and was named by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the world. She is a recipient of the Radcliffe Medal, the Brandeis Medal, the Thurgood Marshall Award from the American Bar Association, and The Gold Medal from the New York State Bar Association. Ifill serves on the board of the Mellon Foundation, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the board of the Learning Policy Institute, and the Board of Trustees of New York University School of Law.
The event is co-sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Multicultural Student Affairs; University Library; College of Engineering; College of Design; College of Veterinary Medicine; Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics; Department of Political Science; and Committee on Lectures (funded by Student Government).