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June 28, 2012

Dr. Mary Frances Berry to Deliver Higginbotham Lecture at June 26 Bar Luncheon Former Chancellor Jane Leslie Dalton to Receive Sandra Day O’Connor Award

Dr. Mary Frances Berry, who served as Chairperson of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights during the Clinton administration, will deliver the 2012 Judge A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. Memorial Public Interest Lecture at the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Quarterly Meeting and Luncheon on Tuesday, June 26 at Noon at the Hyatt at The Bellevue, Broad and Walnut Streets, in Philadelphia. Also at the luncheon, Jane Leslie Dalton, of counsel at Duane Morris LLP and a former Chancellor of the Association, will receive the 2012 Sandra Day O’Connor Award.

Dr. Berry was appointed by President Carter and confirmed by the Senate as a Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. After President Reagan fired her for criticizing his civil rights policies, she sued him in federal district court and won reinstatement. In 1993, President Clinton designated her Chairperson of the Commission. She was reappointed to a six-year term in 1999 and served until 2004.

Dr. Berry was one of the founders of the Free South Africa Movement, which initiated protests at the South African Embassy in the successful struggle for democracy in South Africa. She was arrested and jailed several times in the cause.

Dr. Berry was Assistant Secretary for Education in the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare during the Carter Administration. Prior to her service at the Department, she was a Provost at the University of Maryland - College Park, and then Chancellor of the University of Colorado - Boulder. She was educated at Howard University, and the University of Michigan and its Law School.

Dr. Berry is a Vice President of the American Historical Association and President of the Organization of American Historians. She has received 32 honorary doctoral degrees and numerous awards including the NAACP’s Image Award; the Rosa Parks Award of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; the Ebony Magazine Black Achievement Award; the Hubert Humphrey Award of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; and the American Bar Association’s Spirit of Excellence Award.

She is currently the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania. Her latest book, Power in Words, explores the back-stories of the speeches that helped get President Obama elected. Dr. Berry will be introduced by Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor John E. Savoth.

Judge Higginbotham was the first African American to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, who also served as Chief Judge of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. A legal and civics giant and scholar, he was a life-long champion of individual rights, with a career that spanned nearly half a century.

The Association’s Sandra Day O’Connor Award is conferred annually on a woman attorney who has demonstrated superior legal talent, achieved significant legal accomplishments and has furthered the advancement of women in both the profession and the community. Jane Leslie Dalton served as Chancellor of the Association in 2007.

The Association’s Women in the Profession Committee established the award in 1993 to recognize the important contributions that women attorneys in Philadelphia have made to the legal profession. That year, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor presented the first award to U.S. District Court Senior Judge Norma L. Shapiro.

Also at the Luncheon, Murray H. Shusterman, Senior Counsel at Fox Rothschild LLP, will be the sole inductee into the Association’s 75-Year Club, in recognition of 75 years of practicing law. Attorneys and judges who have practiced law for 50, 60 and 65 years will also be honored at the event.
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