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Cornell University

Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Lecture 2023

Derailed by Diversity: Racial Justice after Affirmative Action

Monday, February 13, 7:00 pm, Sage Chapel

In person and via livestream

    Richard T. Ford

    This year’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration will feature Richard T. Ford, the George E. Osborne Professor of Law at Stanford University, engaging the future of racial justice and admissions in higher education. A leading expert on civil rights and antidiscrimination law, Ford will articulate the crucial importance for society and for colleges and universities to advance racial justice and to improve access for historically marginalized communities to higher education. With the prospect that the Supreme Court of the United States may soon end current race-conscious admissions practices, Ford will discuss how current legal notions of diversity have limited affirmative action and new ways universities can advance racial justice and cultivate diverse and inclusive communities. See Richard T. Ford's full bio.Following the lecture, Dr. Sean Eversley Bradwell, Assistant Professor of Education at Ithaca College, will engage Ford in conversational Q&A. Dr. Bradwell has research and teaching interests in educational policy and social change. An alumnus of Amsterdam High School (NY), Dr. Bradwell received a B.A. in political science from the University of Rochester, an M.S. in education from Rochester’s Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development, and a Ph.D. in policy analysis and management from Cornell University. Throughout his career, Dr. Bradwell has worked in for-profit education, public schools, and higher education. Dr. Bradwell is an active community member, serving his fifth consecutive term on the Ithaca City School District Board of Education where he also serves as President of the Board. Spouse, parent, grandparent, sneaker collector, and part-time provocateur, Dr. Bradwell is committed to working towards more meaningful learning and teaching.

    Recording available for those who register for livestream.

    • Joel Harter, Chair - Associate Dean of Spirituality and Meaning Making; Director of Cornell United Religious Work

    • Kofi Acree - Director, John Henrik Clarke Africana Library; Curator, Africana Collections, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections
    • Courtney Owens - Assistant Director, Multicultural Student Leadership and Empowerment
    • Kristin Dade - Co-Director, Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives 
    • Leslyn McBean-Clairborne - Director, Greater Ithaca Activities Center
    • LeeAnn Roberts - Director, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Bowers College of Computing and Information Science
    • Victor Younger - Director, Diversity and Inclusion, Nolan School of Hotel Administration
    • Latesha Fussell - Director, Diversity and Inclusion, College of Architecture, Art, and Planning

    Sponsors: Office of Spirituality and Meaning-Making (OSMM) and Cornell United Religious Work (CURW), Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives (OADI), Cornell Law School.

    Cosponsors: College of Architecture, Art, and Planning; Bowers College of Computing and Information Science – Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; David M. Einhorn Center for Community Engagement; eCornell; and Greater Ithaca Activity Center (GIAC), and SC Johnson College of Business – Office of Diversity and Inclusion.



    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 seeks to bring 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, and scholars, activists, journalists and religious leaders whose work is informed by and 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, militarism, imperialism, governmental abuses of power, barriers to community-based on ethnicity, religion, creed — remain with us today. These very issues currently constitute a greater threat to American democracy than at any time since his assassination in 1968. The manner in which these issues are addressed will determine our collective future as a society.

    This annual cross-campus/community partnership to commemorate Dr. King, a composite of the "Beloved Community" central to his thought and action, strives to be a local example of collaboration across real and perceived stratification to promote moral values and social justice. 

    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.