Symposium Schedule

The first day of the MLK50 Symposium consists 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.


The MLK50 Law Symposium panel sessions will be held at the Peabody Hotel in the Continental Ballroom. The Keynote Luncheon will be at the Peabody Hotel in the Grand Ballroom.

  • 8:00 a.m. - Doors open. Check-in and Breakfast (Breakfast sponsored by Bass, Berry & Sims, PLC)
  • 8:45 a.m. - Welcome Remarks
  • 9:00 - 10:15 a.m. - Panel 1: Criminal Justice
  • 10:15 - 10:30 a.m. - Refreshment Break
  • 10:30 - 11:45 a.m. - Panel 2: Voting Rights
  • 12:15 - 1:45 p.m. - Keynote Luncheon (Grand Ballroom)
  • 2:15 - 3:30 p.m. - Panel 3: Confronting Persistent Poverty
  • 3:30 - 3:45 p.m. - Refreshment Break
  • 3:45 - 5:00 p.m. - Panel 4: 21st Century Activism
  • 5:00 p.m. - Concluding Remarks



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 Massachusetts - 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 - Assistant Professor of Law, University of Memphis School of Law.


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


  • Debo Adegbile – Partner, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP; Past Senior Counsel to the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and 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-Counsel 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 - Professor of Law, 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.
  • 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 School of Law.
  • 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, the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights, University of Pennsylvania School of Law.

Moderator - Amy Campbell - Associate Professor and Director, Institute for Health Law Policy, 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, Rhodes College.
  • Claude Steele – Professor of Psychology, Stanford University.
  • Beverly Tatum – President Emerita, Spelman College.

Moderator - Daniel Kiel - Associate Professor of Law, University of Memphis School of Law.