Each year, a preeminent leader in the African-American community delivers the Thurgood Marshall Lecture and Dinner at UCLA on Law and Human Rights. On Thursday, April 17, Elaine Brown, former Black Panther leader and an advocate for radical reform of the criminal justice system will deliver the 2008 lecture.
The event, which benefits the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, will begin with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner and a program at 7 p.m.
The evenings program will honor the contributions of former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, whose record for civil rights and advocacy is inextricably linked to the African-American struggle for social and economic justice. Past lecturers have included civil rights activist Julian Bond, law professor and author Lani Guinier, and late UCLA alumnus and noted attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr.
Throughout the last four decades, Brown has organized significant efforts aimed at progressive change in the United States. Brown, who grew up in the ghettos of north Philadelphia, was an active member of the Black Panther Party from 1968 to 1978.
Brown helped establish the organizations Free Legal Aid Program, wrote and performed songs, including The Black Panther National Anthem, and edited the partys official newspaper.
In 1971, she became the first female member of the Black Panthers Party Central Committee and served as the partys chairperson from 1974 to 1977.
Brown is the author of several books including A Taste of Power: A Black Womens Story (Pantheon, 1993), which is her memoir and has been optioned by HBO for a six-part series titled The Black Panthers.
Much of Browns recent work has focused on a radical reform of the criminal justice system. The Atlanta resident has authored and edited several books about the plight of prisoners and the injustices of the criminal justice system. In 1998, she co-founded Atlanta-based Mothers Advocating Juvenile Justice, a grassroots organization with over 300 members who advocate on behalf of teenagers who were prosecuted as adults.
Brown also is the founder of Fields of Flowers, Inc., an educational non-profit corporation that serves poor black children.
Since its creation in 1969, the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA has been ranked among the nations top academic research centers in African American Studies. The center conducts and sponsors multidisciplinary research on the African-American experience, supports the bachelor and masters degree programs in Afro- American Studies, facilitates scholarly activities for faculty and students, administers undergraduate scholarship programs for students majoring in Afro-American Studies, and sponsors community-service programming.
For more information on the awards dinner, call (310) 825-4023.