Power of Diversity Lecture Series features talk by educator, civil rights activist Mary Frances Berry

Mary Frances BerryMary Frances Berry, author of Power in Words: The Stories Behind Barack Obama’s Speeches, from the State House to the White House, will headline Case Western Reserve’s Power of Diversity talk, Thursday, March 27, at 4:30 p.m. in the Wolstein Research Building auditorium.

Berry will address “Achieving Diversity and Opportunity in the 21st Century: Now is the Time.” The event, which is free and open to the public, is part of the Power of Diversity Lecture Series, sponsored by Case Western Reserve’s Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity.

The Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and a University of Pennsylvania history professor, Berry has made several contributions as a civil rights activities, educator, historian and lawyer. She has served as:

  • Provost at the University of Maryland,
  • Chancellor of the University of Colorado-Boulder,
  • Assistant secretary for education in the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare during Jimmy Carter’s presidency,
  • One of the founders of the Free South Africa Movement and participant in protests against apartheid.

In addition, she is the author of The Pig Farmer’s Daughter and other Tales of Law and Justice: Race and Sex in the Courts, 1865 to the Present; My Face is Black is True, Callie House and the Struggle for Ex-Slave Reparations; and And Justice for All: The United States Commission on Civil Rights and the Continuing Struggle for Freedom in America.

Carter appointed Berry to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, but President Ronald Reagan later fired her for criticizing his civil right policies. Berry sued Reagan and won reinstatement to the commission. Later, President Bill Clinton appointed Berry chair of the commission, and, in 1999, she received a six-year reappointment, but resigned in 2004.

Berry has received 32 honorary doctorate degrees, the NAACP’s Image Award, the Rosa Parks Award from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Hubert Humphrey Award of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

To attend the lecture, make reservations by emailing diversity-rsvp@case.edu. For information, call Janetta Hammock in the Office of Diversity at 216.368.3206.