Widener Law honors Dr. Martin Luther King
Published: January 29, 2007
mlk_hb1The faculty, students and staff on both campuses of Widener University School of Law took time this January to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In Harrisburg, about 100 people gathered Thursday, Jan. 25 in the administration building to hear retired educator Ann Lyon speak about history and her family's connections to the civil rights movement. Lyon, 79, grew up the daughter of privileged, white southern parents who stood out for their support of equal treatment for African Americans. Her parents, along with activist E.D. Nixon, helped bail Rosa Parks - a family friend who helped Lyon's mother with her sewing - out of jail and convinced her to become a test case.

Lyon, the niece of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, recalled the days of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, in which she talked of King's commitment to peaceful demonstrations. "He said if there's any kind of violence, the cause is lost and we are doomed."

In Delaware, about 100 people gathered Thursday, Jan. 18 in the Ruby R. Vale Moot Courtroom for a panel discussion of civil rights issues and a keynote address by Dr. Mary Frances Berry, the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of mlk_hb2American Social Thought and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania. Other panelists included Widener Law Professors Serena M. Williams, Arlene Rivera Finkelstein, Andrew L. Strauss, Robert J. Lipkin, Robert L. Hayman Jr., and Drewry Nash Fennell, executive director of the ACLU-Delaware.

King, Berry said, was going to be a preacher and could have had a long, potentially lucrative career in the church.

"He wasn't born a leader. It wasn't on his belly button when he was born. He became a leader. So can you," she told the students.

After the talk, Berry signed copies of her book My Face is Black Is True: Callie House and the Struggle for Ex-Slave Reparations after the talk.

Photo 1: Harrisburg event speaker Ann Lyon told of growing up in the south in a family that supported the civil rights movement.
Photo 2: Vaneskha Hyacinthe, president of the BLSA-MLSA student organization on the Harrisburg campus stands with speaker Ann Lyon. Hyacinthe formally introduced Lyon at the start of the program.
Photo 3: The full panel at the Delaware event, from left, Widener Law Professors Serena M. Williams, Arlene Rivera Finkelstein, Andrew L. Strauss, Robert L. Hayman Jr., who moderated, keynote speaker Dr. Mary Frances Berry, Drewry Nash Fennell, executive director of the ACLU-Delaware, and Widener Law Professor Robert J. Lipkin.
Photo 4: Dr. Mary Frances Berry did a book signing after her talk, where she spoke with first-year law student Amanda Jacobs, right.