Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Lecture 2024
The Urgency of Intersectional Justice
Monday, February 19, 7:00 pm, Sage Chapel
In person and via livestream
Kimberlé Crenshaw ‘81
This year’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration will feature Cornell ’81 alumna Kimberlé Crenshaw, speaking on The Urgency of Intersectional Justice. A leading legal scholar and civil rights advocate, Crenshaw’s work has been foundational in establishing critical race theory and intersectionality, both terms she coined and frameworks that have been increasingly attacked, misunderstood, and even legislated against.
Now more than ever, Crenshaw’s work is relevant and necessary to understanding and addressing systems of oppression, and at a time when some are seeking to limit teaching about oppression, to defund DEI programs, and to shut down gender, race, and ethnic studies departments within public education. Crenshaw’s work recognizes there can be no liberation without truth-telling around past and present oppression, and she challenges us to recognize that working towards Dr. King’s vision of beloved community requires advancing justice and civil rights at the intersection of race and gender.
The 2024 Commemoration is part of the year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Women’s Resource Center at Cornell, now newly renamed the Gender Equity Resource Center (or GenEq), and celebrates Kimberlé Crenshaw’s lifelong efforts as a leading advocate, educator, and pioneer for gender justice. This year’s Commemoration also highlights the intersectional work of the newly renamed Centers for Student Equity, Empowerment, and Belonging within the Office of the Dean of Students.
Recording available for those who register for livestream.
Kimberlé Crenshaw’s full bio
Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, co-founder and executive director of AAPF and bicoastal professor of law at both UCLA and Columbia, is a pioneering scholar and writer on civil rights, critical race theory, Black feminist legal theory, race, racism, and the law. Crenshaw’s work has been foundational in critical race theory and in intersectionality, both terms she coined.
Crenshaw serves on the Committee on Law and Justice of the National Academies of Science and on the board of the Sundance Institute. Crenshaw has received achievement awards from Planned Parenthood, the National ERA Coalition, and the Outstanding Scholar Award from The Fellows of the American Bar Association (ABF). She was voted one of the ten most important thinkers in the world by Prospect Magazine. She received the 2021 Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award by the Women's Section of the Association of American Law Schools.
Most recently, Professor Crenshaw was named the recipient of the 2021 AALS Triennial Award for Lifetime Service to Legal Education and to the Legal Profession. She is a senior non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institute, and an inductee to The American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Political and Social Science.
2024 Commemoration Committee
- Kofi Acree – Director, John Henrik Clarke Africana Library; Curator, Africana Collections, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections
- Kristin Dade – Co-Director, Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives
- Shura Gat – Associate Dean of Students and Director of the Gender Equity Resource Center (GenEq)
- Joel Harter – Associate Dean of Students and Director of the Office of Spirituality and Meaning Making (OSMM) and Cornell United Religious Work (CURW)
- Leslyn McBean-Clairborne – Director, Greater Ithaca Activities Center
- LaTivia McCowan – Residence Hall Director, Ujamaa Residential College
- LeeAnn Roberts – Director, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Bowers College of Computing and Information Science
- Sharifa Wip – Associate Dean of Students and Director of Black Student Empowerment
- Victor Younger – Director, Diversity and Inclusion, Nolan School of Hotel Administration
The annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration at Cornell aspires to be a cross-campus and community partnership that makes accessible the life and legacy of Dr. King for contemporary times. The King commemoration brings together Cornellians, Ithaca College, and Ithaca community colleagues to plan and participate in this event. The Commemoration seeks to bridge the gap between memory and history: the memory of an earlier generation that participated in or lived during the black freedom struggle of the 1950s and 1960s, and the history of a faraway time for persons born after this period.
Speakers for the King Commemoration have included those who worked directly with or knew Dr. King, as well as scholars, activists, journalists, and religious leaders whose work is a continuation of his legacy. These speakers have highlighted the continuity between past and present, providing critical examination of King's legacy and contemporary issues. The issues with which Dr. King grappled — racism, poverty and income inequality, war and militarism, imperialism, and governmental abuses of power — remain with us today. These very issues currently constitute a greater threat to American democracy than at any time since his assassination in 1968, and the way these issues are addressed will determine our collective future as a society.
This annual cross-campus/community partnership to commemorate Dr. King strives to be a local example of collaboration across real and perceived stratification to promote moral values and social justice and to advance beloved community in Ithaca and beyond.
To learn more about Dr. King's visit to Cornell in 1961, visit this Cornell Chronicle article. To learn more about his work and legacy, visit this library guide developed by the John Henrik Clarke Africana Library at Cornell.