Panelists and Bios

MLK50 Symposium: Where Do We Go From Here?

deboDebo Adegbile – Partner, the law firm of WilmerHale.

Mr. Adegbile is a litigation partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP. He serves as Co-Chair of the firm's anti-discrimination practice and is a member of the firm's Government and Regulation group. In addition to his practice at the firm, Mr. Adegbile currently serves as a commissioner on the US Commission on Civil Rights, appointed by President Obama in 2016.

Previously, Mr. Adegbile served as Senior Counsel to the Chairman of the US Senate Judiciary Committee and as Director of Litigation and Acting President for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. During his time at LDF, Mr. Adegbile presented oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in two of the most significant civil rights cases of the last decade. In both cases he defended the constitutionality of the core provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – most recently in the 2013 case Shelby County v. Holder, and previously in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder. Mr. Adegbile is a frequent speaker on Supreme Court and anti-discrimination law topics and has testified before Congress on multiple occasions.


roy austinRoy L. Austin – Partner, Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP; former Deputy Assistant to President Obama for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice & Opportunity.

Roy L. Austin, Jr. is a partner with the law firm of Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP, where he practices trial litigation. He has previously served as an Honors Trial Attorney with the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division investigating and prosecuting hate crime and police brutality cases around the country. In 2000, he joined Keker & Van Nest LLP in San Francisco, as an associate working on complex civil and white-collar criminal cases. In 2002, he joined the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia where he prosecuted domestic violence, adult and child sexual assault, human trafficking, homicide and fraud and public corruption cases. He has also been a partner at McDermott, Will & Emery, as well as a Senior Assistant U.S. Attorney and Coordinator of the D.C. Human Trafficking Task Force, which he began in 2009.

In January 2010, Mr. Austin was appointed Deputy Assistant Attorney General (DAAG), Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice. Finally, in March 2014, Mr. Austin joined the White House Domestic Policy Council as Deputy Assistant to President Obama for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity.


cornell brooksCornell Brooks – Former President of the NAACP, 2014-2017.

Cornell Brooks is an American lawyer and activist. He is the immediate past-president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Mr. Brooks previously served as president of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice in Newark, New Jersey, and as executive director of the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington.
Mr. Brooks was Senior Counsel with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), directing the FCC's Office of Communication Business Opportunities. He also served as a trial attorney with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. In 2010, Brooks served on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's transition team on the Committee on Homeland Security and Corrections.


dorothy brownDorothy Brown – Professor of Law, Emory Law School.

Dorothy Brown, Professor of Law at Emory Law School, is the nation's leading critical tax scholar examining race, class, and gender implications of tax policy. Professor Brown has over two decades of research showing how structural inequality is replicated in our tax system. She is also the author of Critical Race Theory: Cases, Materials, and Problems, currently in its third edition. A popular speaker, she has appeared on MSNBC; CNN; PBS; and NPR. Her opinion pieces have been published in The New York Times, National Law Journal, CNN, Forbes, and Bloomberg View.


hasenRichard Hasen – Chancellor's Professor of Law and Political Science, University of California – Irvine School of Law.

Richard Hasen is a nationally recognized expert in election law and campaign finance regulation, and is co-author of a leading casebook on election law. From 2001-2010, he served (with Dan Lowenstein) as founding co-editor of the quarterly peer-reviewed publication, Election Law Journal. He is the author of more than 80 articles on election law issues, published in numerous journals including the Harvard Law Review, Stanford Law Review and Supreme Court Review. Hasen also writes the often-quoted Election Law Blog. He was elected to the American Law Institute in 2009, and he was named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America by The National Law Journal in 2013.


ifillSherrilyn Ifill - President and Director-Council of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Sherrilyn Ifill is the seventh President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. Ms. Ifill is a long-time member of the LDF family. After graduating law school, Ifill served first as a fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union and then for five years as an assistant counsel in LDF's New York office, where she litigated voting rights cases. Among her successful litigation was the landmark Voting Rights Act case Houston Lawyers' Association vs. Attorney General of Texas, in which the Supreme Court held that judicial elections are covered by the provisions of section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

A critically acclaimed author, her book "On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century," reflects her lifelong engagement in and analysis of issues of race and American public life. Ifill is the immediate past Chair of the Board of U.S. Programs at the Open Society Institute, one of the largest philanthropic supporters of civil rights and social justice organizations in the country.


karlanPamala Karlan – Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law, Co-Director, Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, Stanford Law School.

Pamela Karlan is the Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law and a founder and co-director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford Law School. She is the co-author of three leading casebooks and a monograph on constitutional interpretation—Keeping Faith with the Constitution—and dozens of scholarly articles. Her clinic has represented parties in more than fifty merits cases along with representing a wide range of amici curiae (from the bipartisan leadership of the House Judiciary Committee to labor unions and civil rights groups to overseas voters and survivors of torture).

After graduating from law school, Ms. Karlan clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Abraham Sofaer and Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, and then went on to practice law at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She has also served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice, where she received the Attorney General's Award for Exceptional Service (the Department's highest award for employee performance) for work in implementing the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Windsor and the John Marshall Award for Providing Legal Advice for helping to guide the Department on questions involving Title VII and gender identity. She has been named one of the Politico 50 – a group of "thinkers, doers, and visionaries transforming American politics".


losierToussaint Losier – Assistant Professor, University of Amherst College of Humanities & Fine Arts, W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies.

Dr. Toussaint Losier is an Assistant Professor in the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at University of Massachusetts-Amherst. For years Dr. Losier has been engaged as a community activist, including advocating for a trauma center on the South Side of Chicago while attending graduate school. His research interests include Urban Social Movements, U.S. Political History, Carceral State, and 20th Century African and Caribbean History. His various fellowships include the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship and the Mellon Mays Dissertation Fellowship.


maclinTracey Maclin – Professor of Law & Joseph Lipsitt Faculty Research Scholar, Boston University School of Law.

Professor Tracey Maclin is the 1995 recipient of the Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching, Boston University's highest teaching award. Professor Maclin is a member of the American Law Institute, and has held visiting professorships at the law schools of Harvard and Cornell Universities. He also has served as counsel of record for the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Cato Institute in a number of US Supreme Court cases addressing Fourth Amendment issues. Most recently, he was the author of an amicus brief representing the Cato Institute and NACDL in Hudson v. Michigan.


dbmDayna Matthew - William L. Matheson and Robert M. Morgenthau Distinguished Professor of Law; F. Palmer Weber Research Professor of Civil Liberties and Human Rights, University of Virginia Law School.

Dayna Bowen Matthew, a leader in public health who focuses on racial disparities in health care, is the William L. Matheson and Robert M. Morgenthau Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law. She is a published expert in law and policy related to health care, public health, race, and equal protection. Previously, she served as a Senior Advisor to the Director of the EPA's Office of Civil Rights. As a 2015-2016 Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow, Professor Matthew served on the health policy team for Senator Debbie Stabenow, of Michigan. She currently works as Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and as a Visiting Fellow with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.


Charles McKinneyCharles McKinney - Neville Frierson Bryan Chair of Africana Studies; Associate Professor of History at Rhodes College.  

Charles McKinney is the Neville Frierson Bryan Chair of Africana Studies and an Associate Professor of History at Rhodes College. He teaches courses in African American History and 20th century social and political history of the United States. His particular areas of interest include the civil rights movement, the relationship between history and memory in the creation of historical narratives, the confluence of Black Power and civil rights ideology, and the creation of social change institutions in poor, working class communities. He is the author of Greater Freedom: The Evolution of the Civil Rights Struggle in Wilson, North Carolina, a work that sheds light on the dynamic interplay between black agency and white repression, and the evolving nature of social change in the middle of the twentieth century.


tomikoTomiko Brown-Nagin - Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law; Director, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice; Co-Director, Program in Law and History, Harvard Law School; Professor of History, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University.

Tomiko Brown-Nagin is the Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School and Professor of History at Harvard University's Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The Director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute and the Co-Director of the Law School's Program in Law and History, Brown-Nagin is an award-winning legal historian, an expert in constitutional law and education law and policy, a member of the American Law Institute, a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and a distinguished lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. She has published articles and book chapters on the Supreme Court's equal protection jurisprudence, civil rights law and history, the Affordable Care Act, and education reform in a variety of publications.


oslerMark Osler - Professor and Robert and Marion Short Distinguished Chair in Law, University of St. Thomas School of Law.

Mark Osler is the Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas (MN). Osler's writing on clemency, sentencing and narcotics policy has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and in law journals at Harvard, Stanford, the University of Chicago, Northwestern, Georgetown, Ohio State, UNC, and Rutgers.

A former federal prosecutor, he played a role in striking down the mandatory 100-to-1 ratio between crack and powder cocaine in the federal sentencing guidelines by winning the case of Spears v. United States in the U.S. Supreme Court, with the Court ruling that judges could categorically reject that ratio.


dorothy robertsDorothy Roberts - George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology and the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights, University of Pennsylvania School of Law.

Dorothy Roberts is the 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor and George A. Weiss University Professor of Law & Sociology at University of Pennsylvania, with joint appointments in the Departments of Africana Studies and Sociology and the Law School, where she is the inaugural Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights. She is also Founding Director of the Penn Program on Race, Science & Society. An internationally recognized scholar, public intellectual, and social justice advocate, Roberts has written and lectured extensively on the interplay of race and gender in U.S. institutions and has been a leader in transforming thinking on reproductive health, child welfare, and bioethics.


claude steeleClaude Steele – Professor of Psychology, University of California – Berkeley.

Claude M. Steele is an American social psychologist and a Professor of Psychology at UC Berkeley. He is best known for his work on stereotype threat and its application to minority student academic performance. His earlier work dealt with research on the self (e.g., self-image, self-affirmation) as well as the role of self-regulation in addictive behaviors. In 2010, he released his book, Whistling Vivaldi and Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us, summarizing years of research on stereotype threat and the underperformance of minority students in higher education.

He currently serves as a trustee of the Russell Sage Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and as a Fellow for both the American Institutes for Research and the American Academy of Political and Social Science.


tatumBeverly Tatum – President Emerita, Spelman College.

Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College, is a clinical psychologist widely known for both her expertise on race relations and as a thought leader in higher education. Her thirteen years as the president of Spelman College (2002-2015) were marked by innovation and growth and her visionary leadership was recognized in 2013 with the Carnegie Academic Leadership Award. The author of several books including the best-selling "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?"and Other Conversations About Race (now in a new 2017 20th anniversary edition) and Can We Talk About Race? and Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation (2007), Tatum is a sought-after speaker on the topic of racial identity development, the impact of race in the classroom, strategies for creating inclusive campus environments, and higher education leadership. In 2005 Dr. Tatum was awarded the prestigious Brock International Prize in Education for her innovative leadership in the field. A Fellow of the American Psychological Association, she was the 2014 recipient of the APA Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contributions to Psychology.