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February 01, 2021

Noted civil rights attorney John Brittain to present Lesar Distinguished Lecture

by Pete Rosenbery

Brittain-Photo-File-2020-sm.jpgCARBONDALE, Ill. – Noted civil rights attorney and law professor John C. Brittain will share his more than five decades of legal work next month when he presents the 2021 Hiram H. Lesar Distinguished Lecture hosted by the Southern Illinois University Carbondale School of Law. 

Brittain will present “Racial Awakening, Reckoning and Mindfulness in 2020” during the virtual presentation at 5 p.m. Feb. 10. The event is free and open to the public. This is the 23nd lecture in the series established to honor founding Dean Hiram H. Lesar. 

Brittain will discuss issues of racial reckoning, economic uncertainty, political unrest and COVID-19. The Zoom meeting link will also be available on the lecture’s webpage.

Brittain’s experience includes serving as chief counsel and senior deputy director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Founded by President John F. Kennedy, the public interest legal organization based in Washington, D.C., enlists private lawyers in taking pro bono cases in civil rights-related issues.

Brittain was a member of the original legal counsel in “Sheff v. O’Neill,” a landmark 1996 Connecticut school desegregation decision involving the Hartford school system. A former dean at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University in Houston and professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law, Brittain is a professor at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law. In 2015, the Mississippi Center for Justice honored him as a "pioneering civil rights leader and esteemed law professor who has inspired a generation of young attorneys."

Brittain is a “living legend,” SIU School of Law Dean Camille Davidson said.

“I am excited that he will share his journey with the Southern Illinois community,” Davidson said. “The audience will hear about his experiences as a civil rights attorney, law professor and former law school dean. I am certain that all who tune in to the lecture will be inspired by his words of wisdom.”