Minnesota Law’s Annual MLK Convocation
In 2016, the University of Minnesota Law School and its Diversity Committee launched the first Annual MLK Convocation in an effort to bring all members of the Law School community together to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and reflect on the continued relevance of his work in our legal community.
2021: Breaking the Dam Against Social Progress
The 6th Annual MLK Convocation featured an in-depth conversation with alumni Paul G. Feinman ‘85, Toddrick Barnette ‘92, Pamela Alexander ‘77, and Kassius O. Benson ‘96. Our panelists convened over Zoom webinar and were joined by Dean Garry W. Jenkins and Marielos Cabrera, 3L. They discussed how the judicial system can often prohibit positive change and social progress. Dean Jenkins stressed that, “Educating ourselves on bias and racism, identifying structural barriers to justice, advocating for change in law and policy, and other action, are all important.” Feinman pointed to advocating for housing changes in civil court or performing pro bono legal advocacy. “Everyone can do something,” he said. “You can’t do it all but you can do something.”
2020: Shared Stakes Across Neighborly Divides
A Conversation with Retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan C. Page ’78
Retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page ’78 joined Dean Garry W. Jenkins and Navin Ramalingam, 2L, for an hour-long conversation commemorating the life and work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a program titled “Shared Stakes Across Neighborly Divides.” The conversation focused on how we can put Dr. King’s ideas into practice now, in a world that seems even more divided and angry than it was during his time. “We’re all in this together,” said Justice Page. “We all see the world differently, but the reality is that we have to share this earth.”
2019: Conscious Justice in a Fake News Era
A Reflection on MLK’s Sermon “Remaining Awake Through A Great Revolution”
The University of Minnesota Law School community was invited to attend the 4th Annual MLK Convocation featuring Minnesota Law alumna, author, and CNN Legal Analyst Laura Coates ’05, in conversation with 2L Diversity Committee Member Eduardo Castro. Dean Garry W. Jenkins welcomed the audience and noted, “Bigotry and hate remain persistent problems in our nation and in our politics. In my view, these are not the parts of America that inspire us. I mark these challenges not as a lament but rather, as a challenge, a call to action.” Ms. Coates then began her speech by reading an excerpt of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1968 address at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
2018: Facing North
Implicit Bias in Minnesota Courts
The 3rd Annual MLK Convocation featured a discussion between The Honorable Pamela G. Alexander ’77, Judge of the 4th District Court of Minnesota, and Professor Francis X. Shen, executive director of education and outreach for the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience. The discussion was moderated by Dean Garry W. Jenkins, William S. Pattee Professor of Law. In his introduction, Dean Jenkins noted that Dr. King addressed the topic in a 1964 interview. Northerners, King said, are “devoted to an abstract principle of cordial interracial relations … but the truth is that deep prejudices and discrimination exist in subtle and covert disguises.”
2017: Where Do We Go From Here?
Law and Leadership in a Fractured Era
The 2nd Annual MLK Convocation featured a discussion on Dr. King’s book Where Do We Go From Here, as it applies to our current times. The conversation took place between Dean Garry Jenkins, Senior Judge Michael Davis, ‘72, of the U.S. District Court of Minnesota, and Judge Nicole Starr, ‘03, of Minnesota’s Second Judicial District. Dean Jenkins began the discussion by noting that systemic and implicit bias continue to exist in the United States, as do racial inequities in the criminal justice system. He then asked the panelists to address the topic of law and leadership.
2016: Echoes of Birmingham
The inaugural MLK Convocation was lead by Judge Mark Kappelhoff, a former Minnesota Law professor and former deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Judge Kappelhoff began the discussion of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” and was joined by former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page ’78, and Tracie Keesee, project director of the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice. Former University of Minnesota Law School Dean David Wippman moderated the discussion.