Rochester Institute of Technology will host author, legal scholar and civil rights lawyer Michelle Alexander at its annual Expressions of King’s Legacy celebration at the university. The campus and community event takes place from noon to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 26, at RIT’s Gordon Field House and Activities Center.
During the keynote presentation, Alexander will be joined by the Fisk Jubilee Singers, a renowned ensemble dating back to 1871, based at Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., dedicated to the tradition of singing spirituals. They will also perform at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 26 at the Third Presbyterian Church, located at 4 Meigs St. in Rochester.
All events for the 2017 Expressions of King’s Legacy program are free and open to campus and the Greater Rochester community. Registration is requested for the afternoon program and can be done online.
Now in its 35th year, RIT’s Expressions programming has continued to showcase national speakers and international entertainers to celebrate the message of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Programs touch on community experiences and current events that align with the advocacy King was known for throughout his life.
This year’s event will keep in that vein, highlighting Alexander, author of the highly acclaimed 2010 book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. In the text, she states that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” Her research focuses on the U.S. criminal justice system and startling data about mass incarceration of African American males, as well as the impact of incarceration on their lives even after being released.
Alexander, a former associate professor of law at Stanford Law, directed the college’s Civil Rights Clinics. She also won a Soros Justice Fellowship in 2005, which supported the writing of The New Jim Crow. The book would go on to win the 2011 NAACP Image Award for best nonfiction.
Prior to entering academia, Alexander served as director of the Racial Justice Project for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. She has worked as a litigator at private law firms specializing in class-action lawsuits alleging race and gender discrimination. A graduate of Stanford Law School and Vanderbilt University, Alexander clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun and for Chief Judge Abner Mikva on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
The Expressions of King’s Legacy is supported by RIT’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion, the Center for Campus Life and the Department of Criminal Justice in RIT’s College of Liberal Arts.