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Tulane Black Law Alumni Reunion: Sherrilyn Ifill to be keynote

October 20, 2021 11:15 AM
Alina Hernandez



One of the nation’s premier civil rights attorneys and President of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund,  Sherrilyn Ifill, will be the keynote speaker at the biennial Tulane Black Law Alumni Reunion in February.

Ifill’s speech will take place as part of the Saturday events of the BLA Reunion, scheduled for Feb. 10-13, 2022.

“This year’s theme is ‘Black Lawyers on the Move’ which is appropriate considering the frontal attack seeking to erase voting rights for millions of African Americans across the nation,” said Judge Karen Wells Roby, who is a Chair of the reunion committee. “Ms. Ifill and the Legal Defense Fund are at the fore of this fight and  the BLA Reunion Committee are excited to hear from her, a voice for the times.”  

The reunion is the second in as many years; the inaugural reunion in 2019 celebrated the achievement of the law school’s Black lawyers, and focused on the 50th anniversary of its first Black graduate, the late- Michael Starks (L’68).  More than 300 attended the event over several days in 2019, many of whom had attended Tulane Law in the late 60s, 70s and 80s. The event included panels, various celebrations and the installment of a portrait honoring Tulane’s first Black law graduates.

Register here for the next reunion.

Ifill is Director-Counsel of the LDF, a 1940s-era organization founded by the legendary Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and which was seminal in developing and executing the legal strategy that brought about the Supreme Court’s decision on Brown v Board of Education. Ifill is he second woman to lead the organization.

Ifill began her career as a Fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union, before joining the staff of the LDF as an Assistant Counsel in 1988, where she litigated voting rights cases for five years.  In 1993, she left LDF to join the faculty at University of Maryland School of Law in Baltimore. For more than 20 years, she taught civil procedure and constitutional law to thousands of law students, and pioneered a series of law clinics, including one of the earliest law clinics in the country focused on challenging legal barriers to the reentry of ex-offenders.

Ifill is also a prolific scholar who has published academic articles in leading law journals, and op-eds and commentaries in leading newspapers. Her 2007 book “On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century,” was highly acclaimed, and is credited with laying the foundation for contemporary conversations about lynching and reconciliation. A 10th anniversary edition of the book was recently released with a Foreword by Bryan Stevenson, the acclaimed lawyer and founder of the national lynching memorial in Montgomery, Ala.

In 2013, Ifill was invited back to the Legal Defense Fund – this time to lead the organization as its 7th Director-Counsel. In that role, Ifill has increased the visibility and engagement of the organization in litigating cutting edge and urgent civil rights issues and elevating the organization’s decades-long leadership fighting voter suppression, inequity in education, and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. At critical moments during national political and civil rights crises Ifill’s voice and vision have powerfully influenced our national dialogue.

Ifill is a frequent public commentator on racial justice issues, known for her fact-based, richly contextualized analysis of complex racial issues. She is a trusted and valued advisor to civic and community leaders, national civil rights colleagues, and business leaders.