Mar. 27, 2013

Commemoration of King Legacy Continues with Keynote Address April 1

Rita and Bill Bender

Rita and Bill Bender will deliver the keynote address April 1 as the college continues its commemoration of Martin Luther King's legacy.

GENESEO, N.Y. - SUNY Geneseo's commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy continues with a keynote address April 1 by Bill and Rita Bender, long-time civil rights activists and attorneys, who will focus on historic and contemporary educational inequality. Their address, "The Restoration of the Nation: Redress for the Deliberate Denial of Education," begins at 7 p.m. in the MacVittie College Union Ballroom and is free and open to the public.

The Benders were visiting professors at the University of Mississippi Law School in 2009-10, where they taught a course addressing the deliberate denial of education and worked with community groups through the William Winter Institute on Racial Reconciliation.

Bill Bender was an investigator for the New Jersey Civil Rights Division prior to attending law school. He is a 1968 graduate of Rutgers University School of Law. He practiced at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, where he was one of the attorneys for the New York City Demonstration School Districts, and the investigation of the murder of Fred Hampton in Chicago. Returning to Rutgers, he co-directed the Constitutional Litigation Clinic, and taught Civil Procedure courses. Upon moving to Seattle, Bill was a Federal Public Defender prior to joining the law firm where he has practiced since 1979.

Rita Bender went to Meridian, Miss., in January 1964 as Congress of Racial Equality field staff with the Council of Federated Organizations during which she worked in development of a community center, a precursor to the Freedom Schools, and voting rights denials in the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party challenge. She also is a 1968 Rutgers University law graduate. She taught in one of the earliest poverty law clinics established at a law school (Rutgers) and then served as a public defender in New Jersey and in Seattle. She was the Regional Director of the Legal Services Corporation during the Carter administration and went into a private law practice in 1982.

The event is sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Africana/ Black Studies Program, the Xerox Center for Multicultural Teacher Education, the Office of the President, and the Office of Multicultural Programming and Services.

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