Symposium Schedule

The first day of the MLK50 symposium will consist of four moderated panels, each with four panelists drawn from academia, government, and the legal profession. Each panel will examine a specific aspect of Dr. King's legal legacy and each panelist will prepare an essay for publication. The essays presented will examine the progress over the last 50 years and propose actions and solutions for the future. The Honorable Eric Holder, our nation's first African-American Attorney General, will address participants as our Keynote speaker at a luncheon at The Peabody Hotel. The UofM Law School will publish the essays from the symposium in a separate volume intended to become a conceptual plan for the next 50 years. The volume will be distributed nationally.



Addressing policing in communities of color and contemporary penal policy, while grappling with the complex question of what policing and punishment should look like going forward.


  • Roy Austin- Partner, Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP; former Deputy Assistant to President Barack Obama for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice & Opportunity.
  • Toussaint Losier - Assistant Professor, University of Amherst College of Humanities & Fine Arts, W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies.
  • Tracey Maclin – Professor of Law & Joseph Lipsitt Faculty Research Scholar, Boston University School of Law.
  • Mark Osler - Professor and Robert and Marion Short Distinguished Chair in Law, University of St. Thomas School of Law

Moderator - Demetria Frank - University of Memphis School of Law


Addresses current voting rights challenges and strategies for reform, whether through litigation, legislation or mobilization. 


  • Debo Adegbile – Partner, the law firm of WilmerHale; Past Senior Counsel to the Chairman of the U.S.Senate Judiciary Committee and as Director of Litigation and Acting President for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Richard Hasen – Chancellor's Professor of Law and Political Science, University of California – Irvine School of Law.
  • Sherrilyn Ifill - President and Director-Council of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Pamala Karlan – Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law, Co-Director, Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, Stanford Law School.

Moderator - Steve Mulroy - University of Memphis School of Law


Examines some of the contemporary areas where poverty impacts life chances for individuals.


  • Dorothy Brown – Professor of Law, Emory Law School; Leading critical tax scholar examining race, class and gender implications of tax policy.
  • Dayna 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.
  • Tomiko 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.
  • Dorothy 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.

Moderator - Amy Campbell - University of Memphis School of Law


Examines shifts in the legal landscape, modern technology, and the understanding of more subtle manifestations of discrimination impact, advocacy and activism. 


  • Cornell Brooks – Former President of the NAACP, 2014-2017.
  • Charles McKinney - Neville Frierson Bryan Chair of Africana Studies; Associate Professor of History at Rhodes College.
  • Claude Steele – Professor of Psychology, Stanford University.
  • Beverly Tatum – President Emerita, Spelman College.

Moderator - Daniel Kiel - University of Memphis School of Law