Sherrilyn Ifill, the seventh president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), will speak on the current state of civil rights in America at the NCCU School of Law on Thursday, Sept. 12, at 6 p.m. The event is open to the public and admission is free.
Ifill is a highly regarded national civil rights strategist and public intellectual whose writings, speeches and media appearances enrich public debate about a range of political and civil rights issues. She worked at LDF for five years under the leadership of former Director-Counsel Julius L. Chambers. She successfully litigated the landmark Voting Rights Act case, Houston Lawyers’ Association vs. Attorney General of Texas, in which the Supreme Court held that judicial elections are covered by the provisions of section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Ifill graduated from Vassar College and received her law degree from New York University School of Law. In 1993, She joined the University of Maryland School of Law faculty, where, in addition to teaching the next generation of civil rights lawyers, she continued to litigate and consult on a broad and diverse range of civil rights cases. Ifill launched several innovative legal offerings while at Maryland Law School, including an environmental justice course in which students represented rural communities in Maryland, and one of the first legal clinics in the nation focused on removing legal barriers to formerly incarcerated persons seeking to responsibly reenter society.
She also is the author of the critically acclaimed “On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century,” a book that reflects her lifelong engagement in and analysis of issues of race and American public life. Ifill's scholarly writing has focused on the importance of diversity on the bench, and she is currently writing a book about race and Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Ifill is the immediate past board chair of U.S. Programs at the Open Society Institute, one of the largest philanthropic supporters of civil rights and social justice organizations in the country.
Ifill’s appearance at NCCU is made possible in part by the support of the Charles Hamilton Houston Endowed Chair at NCCU Law School. The Charles Hamilton Houston Chair was established for NCCU Law School in honor of the noted legal scholar, litigator and civil rights advocate. The funding for the Houston Chair has been generously donated by Frank Anderson and his wife, Susan Powell, and matched by the UNC Board of Governors. John Brittain, professor of law at the David A. Clarke School of Law at the University of the District of Columbia, currently holds the Houston Chair.
The Law School is located at 640 Nelson St. in Durham.