This 11th annual event focuses on the 2013 Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads book selection "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In The Age Of Colorblindness" by Michelle Alexander and will also explore this year's theme 'Understanding Race.' The Keynote Speaker will be one of America's most influential civil rights attorneys - Connie Rice, Co-Director for the Advancement Project, Los Angeles, and renowned for her unconventional approaches to tackling problems of inequity and exclusion.
California Law Business Journal twice designated Connie Rice as one of the top ten most influential attorneys in California. She is a civil rights lawyer who engineers systemic fixes to entrenched inequality and injustice.
Through impact litigation, campaigns and inside bureaucratic maneuvering, Connie Rice has led coalitions and clients to win more than $30 billion in damages, bonds and policy changes. Bus riders, death row inmates, folks abused by police, school kids, whistleblowers, cops and sufferers of every stripe of discrimination, (sex, race, disability, age) have sought her counsel. But so have her opponents, like the Los Angeles Police Department she sued for 15 years but which now reserves a parking space for her at their new headquarters.
Connie grew up all over the world in an Air Force family headed by her parents Anna, a biology teacher, and Phillip, a pilot and Colonel. She graduated from Harvard-Radcliffe colleges in 1978, achieved her black belt in Tae Kwon Do in 1981 and entered New York University School of Law on a Root Tilden Scholarship.
In law school she worked extensively on capital punishment cases at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and after graduating from law school in 1984, she clerked for the Honorable Damon J. Keith at the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit for two years before winging it west to California where she joined the law firm of Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco. She rejoined the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in 1989 as Western Regional Counsel, won several landmark cases and in the words of one magazine, established herself as "the voice of Los Angeles' oppressed."
Together with Co-Directors Molly Munger, Penda Hair and Steve English, Connie launched The Advancement Project, a policy action and technology organization in 1998, and in the words of Los Angeles Magazine, "picked up where Clarence Darrow left off." Connie serves on the board of public radio station KPCC and as chief of staff to Sinbad, her jet black cat.
Doors for this event will open at 6 pm to offer the opportunity to connect with local community agencies and representatives who will be staffing resource tables in the lobby. There will also be time following the event to interact with these local organizations. Copies of "The New Jim Crow" as well as Connie's book "Power Concedes Nothing: One Woman's Quest for Social Justice in America, from the Courtroom to the Kill Zones" will be for sale and the event will include a book signing
This is a key event for the 2013 Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads program, which this year focuses on the theme of "Understanding Race."