Mary Frances Berry
January 8, 2015
Renowned author, educator and civil rights advocate Mary Frances Berry will headline Susquehanna University’s 2015 Winter Convocation, an annual event commemorating the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The event, which begins at 7 p.m. Jan. 19 in Degenstein Center Theater, will feature a conversation with Berry, led by Susquehanna University President L. Jay Lemons, with music by the Gospel Choir and University Choir. The event is free and open to the public.
Berry has been one of the most recognized and respected voices in our nation’s civil rights, gender equality and social justice movements. Serving as chair of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, Berry led the charge for equal rights and liberties for all Americans over the course of four presidential administrations. During her tenure, the commission issued a number of significant reports, including those on the 2000 Florida presidential election, police practices in New York City, environmental justice, percentage plans and affirmative action, church burnings and conditions on Indian reservations. A trailblazer for women and African-Americans alike, she became the first woman of any race to head a major research university, serving as provost at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Berry has devoted her life to leading the fight against inequality. One of the founders of the monumental Free South Africa Movement, she and her organization were instrumental in raising global awareness and abhorrence toward South African injustice, helping to end more than 40 years of apartheid. Berry also served as assistant secretary for education in the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, working to make these historically inequitable systems achieve a new level of fairness.
A prolific author, Berry’s books cover a wide range of subjects, from the history of constitutional racism in America to the politics of parenthood. She now serves as the Geraldine R. Segal professor of American social thought and professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania.
Following the convocation program, Berry will join audience members in the Lore Degenstein Gallery for a reception and book signing. Her books My Face Is Black Is True: Callie House and the Struggle for Ex-Slave Reparations, The Pig Farmer’s Daughter and Other Tales of American Justice: Episodes of Racism and Sexism in the Courts from 1865 to Present, and We Are Who We Say We Are: A Black Family’s Search for Freedom Across the Atlantic World will be available for purchase.