Berry has led a distinguished career in public service. From 1980 to 2004, she served on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, including a stint as its chair from 1993-2004. Between 1977 and 1980, Berry was the assistant secretary for education in the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. She has also served as provost of the University of Maryland and chancellor of the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Currently the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, Berry was one of the founders of the Free South Africa Movement, which initiated protests at the South African Embassy in the successful struggle for democracy in South Africa. Her passion for the cause led to her being arrested and jailed several times.
Recognized repeatedly for her commitment to public service, Berry has received the NAACP's Image Award, the Rosa Parks Award of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Hubert Humphrey Award of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the American Bar Association's Spirit of Excellence Award and the Ebony Magazine Black Achievement Award. She was also one of 75 women featured in I Dream A World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America, and she has been designated one of "America's Women of the Century," by the Siena College Research Institute and the Women's Hall of Fame.
The former president of the Organization of American Historians and current vice president of the American Historical Association, Berry has also authored nine books, including her newly published work titled And Justice For All: The United States Commission On Civil Rights and the Struggle For Freedom in America.
A graduate of Howard University, Berry went on to earn her Ph.D. in history from the University of Michigan and her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School.
Established in 1990, the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Convocation features an academic procession with faculty in full regalia and includes a musical performance by IMANI, Wittenberg's gospel choir. Since its inception, the celebration has grown each year to incorporate a series of events coordinated by the Martin Luther King Commemorative Planning Committee. Led by Lillian Franklin, associate professor of languages, the committee includes Wittenberg faculty, staff and students.
The convocation is part of a week-long celebration of Martin Luther King's life. Other events include the showing of the PBS documentary America Beyond the Color Line at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 14, in Room 201 of the Joseph C. Shouvlin Center for Lifelong Learning and a discussion panel titled "Testament of Hope" at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 15 in Bayley Auditorium in the Barbara Deer Kuss Science Center.
On the day of the convocation, the first event is a Freedom March from the Springfield Art Museum to Wittenberg's Benham-Pence Student Center. Immediately following the convocation, there will also be a Unity Luncheon in the Center Dining Room of the student center, followed by a question and answer session with the featured speaker at 1:15 p.m. in 105 Shouvlin.
The Witt Series brings distinguished lecturers and performing artists of national and international prominence to the campus and local community. For more information about the Series, visit the university's Web site. To make special arrangements reserve a Series poster or become a friend of the Witt Series, contact Jeannine Fox at (937) 327-7470 or via e-mail.
Written By: Karen Gerboth
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