September 6, 2013 Event: "The End of Civil Rights in America?"

Reflections on the Future of Economic Justice from the Perspectives of Law and Religion

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Dallas – The 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, “I Have a Dream” speech, is the backdrop for The End of Civil Rights in America?, a one-day event set for Friday, September 6, from 9:00 am to  4:00 p.m. at SMU Dedman School of Law, Karcher Auditorium (Storey Hall), 3315 Daniel Avenue.

Rev. James Lawson with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Rev. James Lawson with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jointly sponsored by Perkins School of Theology and Dedman School of Law, The End of Civil Rights in America? will feature noted U.S. civil and human rights leaders, scholars, and SMU faculty who will examine the legacy of the Civil Rights movement with its growing  emphasis on economic justice, which was closely tied to the struggle for racial equality and its implications for the future.

The scheduled keynote speaker is the Rev. James Lawson, one of the legendary leaders of the Civil Rights movement. He worked closely with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and was influential in shaping the nonviolent resistance strategy of the movement. After studying satyagraha (the methods of Mohandas Gandhi) in India, he helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960. His students played a leading role in the 1963 March on Washington and other prominent actions of the Civil Rights movement. As pastor in Memphis, Rev. Lawson whose father and grandfather were also Methodist ministers served as chairman of the committee of the African American sanitation workers in 1968, and worked with Rev. King in supporting the workers. Rev. Lawson continues to be active in practicing, teaching, and training for nonviolent resistance and is an advisor of many prominent initiatives and causes.

Julia P. Forrester, dean ad interim, SMU Dedman School of Law, and William B. Lawrence, dean, SMU Perkins School of Theology, will welcome participants.

Other speakers, and their presentations, include:
  • Eliot Shavin, attorney-at-law, supervising attorney and lecturer-at-law, SMU Dedman School of Law, “Wealth as a Suspect Classification and The Economic Bill of Rights.”
  • John Martin, attorney-at-law, Carrington and Coleman, Dallas, “Government Enforcement of Voting Rights Laws.”
  • Jim Harrington, attorney-at-law, founder and director of Texas Civil Rights Project, adjunct instructor, UT School of Law, Austin, “Private Actions to Enforce Civil Rights Laws.”
  • Dr. Theodore Walker, Jr., associate professor of Ethics and Society, SMU Perkins School of Theology, “Beyond Civil Rights to Economic Rights: Prescriptions from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.”
  • Dr. Evelyn L. Parker, associate dean for Academic Affairs and professor of Practical Theology, SMU Perkins School of Theology, “Young Women and the Struggle for Economic Justice: A Litany of Issues.”
  • Willie Baptist, Poverty Initiative scholar-in-residence, Union Theological Seminary, New York City, “Reigniting Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign Today: From Civil Rights to Human Rights.”
  • Dr. Joerg Rieger, Wendland-Cook Professor of Constructive Theology, SMU Perkins School of Theology, “Why Both Race and Class Matter in Religion: Taking the Long View.”
 Rev. James Lawson

Participants will have the opportunity to interact with panelists during Q&A sessions following the morning and afternoon presentations.

This event is open to the public and the $20 per person cost covers lunch and parking (waived for SMU students, staff and faculty). Registration is required and seating is limited. Contact Lisa Montes at and include your name, e-mail address and phone number.

CLE Credit: This program has 4.5 hours CLE credit including 1 hour Ethics pending. CEU Credit will also be made available.

SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program also contributed to this event.

Media Parking:

Parking at SMU Dedman School of Law can be arranged in advance by contacting Lynn Dempsey at 469-878-8821.



Perkins School of Theology, founded in 1911, is one of five official University-related schools of theology of The United Methodist Church. Degree programs include the Master of Divinity, Master of Sacred Music, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Church Ministries, and Doctor of Ministry, as well as the Ph.D., in cooperation with The Graduate Program in Religious Studies at SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

SMU Dedman School of Law enjoys a national and international reputation of distinction. Founded in 1925 and named Dedman School of Law in 2001 for its benefactors Nancy and Robert H. Dedman and their family, it is among the top 25 most competitive law schools for admission credentials. In addition, the law school has some of the nation’s top faculty, and has produced successful leaders living throughout Texas, the United States and in more than 80 countries. SMU Dedman School of Law’s mission is to give each student a legal educational experience of the highest order, and train leaders in law, business, government, and public service nationally and internationally.

SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.