Civil Rights Icon Mary Frances Berry Keynote for MTSU Nationwide Ladies’s Historical past Month

Mary Frances Berry, the Nashville, Tennessee-born former chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission through four presidential administrations, will speak at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 16.

Berry was a member of the United States’ Civil Rights Commission from 1980 to 2004 and chaired it from 1993 to 2004. During her tenure, Berry initiated a comprehensive study of positive action at the behest of President Jimmy Carter. Timelines have been recommended for reversing discrimination against blacks and women, particularly in the workplace.

When Ronald Reagan, an opponent of positive action, became president, he attempted to sack Berry and two other commissioners who criticized his policies. Berry, along with one of those commissioners, Blandina Cardenas Ramirez, sued President Reagan in federal court and was granted the right to keep her seat on the commission.

Maigan Wipfli, chair of the National Committee for Women’s History Month and director of the June Anderson Center for Women and Non-Traditional Students, said Berry was due to speak last year on the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment.

“With her background in activism, voting rights, education and discrimination, she was the perfect choice to speak for the 100th election year last year,” said Wipfli. “Unfortunately, due to COVID, we had to cancel your involvement on campus for us last year. She and her agency worked with us to find a new date and time for this year. We’re so excited to hear them speak. “

Since 1987, Berry has been Professor of American Social Thought with Geraldine R. Segal and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She teaches the history of American law and the history of law and social policy. She also advises students of African American history and legal history.

Berry’s awards include her 35 honorary doctorates, the Roy Wilkins Award from the NAACP, the Rosa Parks Award from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Black Achievement Award from Ebony Magazine and the Roy Rosenzweig Distinguished Service Award from the Organization of American Historians.

Berry is the author of 12 books including “Five Dollars and a Pork Chop Sandwich: Vote Buying and Democracy Corruption” and “Power In Words: The Stories Behind Barack Obama’s State House to White House Speeches” -authorized with Josh Gottheimer.

This event is sponsored by the Distinguished Lecture Committee, the Murfreesboro Branch of the American Association of University Women, and the MTSU President’s Wife Status Commission. For more information, contact Wipfli at [email protected].

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