Valerie Gordon Human Rights Lecture

Valerie Gordon Human Rights Lecture

The annual Valerie Gordon Human Rights Lecture celebrates the memory of the late Valerie Gordon ’93, a fierce advocate for human rights in the US and internationally. The lecture features outstanding lawyers, judges, scholars and advocates who share their experiences in advancing human rights.

The Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy (PHRGE) and the Kemet Chapter of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) proudly co-sponsor the event.

Who Was Valerie Gordon?

“Valerie Gordon was an African-American lawyer who was a 1993 graduate of the Northeastern University School of Law and a highly-respected and valued member of this community. A former journalist, and long-time anti-racism and women’s rights activist, she was an active and committed member of the Kemet Chapter of the Black Law Students Association. She was also a co-founder of the Students of Color Coalition. The SCC advocated for increased awareness and law school action on faculty and student diversity, an end to institutional racism, and attention to race, culture, and difference in the law school curriculum. Valerie was also an advocate for social justice both in the U.S. and internationally, including South Africa. She met and married, Christian Lamar ’93, while in law school. Upon graduation, Valerie and Christian moved to Albany, Georgia, to begin their legal careers. Valerie tragically lost her life to a sudden illness [later that year].”

– Professor Hope Lewis, Founder of the Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy

What Happens at the Valerie Gordon Human Rights Lecture?

Members of the law-school community, the Gordon family, and the public gather to learn about and discuss timely human-rights issues.

The event features a keynote address from a distinguished advocate, jurist, or scholar who has effectively championed human rights in the United States or internationally. Recent keynote speakers have included Justin Hansford, Professor of Law and Director of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard University; Alfred Brownell, Associate Research Professor and Distinguished Scholar in Residence at PHRGE; and Bryan Stevenson, Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative.

In addition, BLSA announces the winner of its annual human-rights essay contest. The winner receives the Spirit of Valerie Gordon Book Award, $500 for the purchase of law books, and reads an excerpt of the winning essay.

The 2021 Valerie Gordon Human Rights Lecture

Friday, April 9, 2021 | 12:10 - 1:40 PM

Keynote Lecture: Human Rights and Racial Justice
Justin Hansford, Professor of Law and Director of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center, Howard University

>> View photo gallery

The Spirit of Valerie Gordon Book Award

Princess Diaz ’23, is the winner of the 2021 Valerie Gordon essay contest.
Bianca Pickering ’22 was the winner of the 2020 Valerie Gordon essay contest.

Friday, April 9, 2021 | 12:10 - 1:40 PM

Danae Rosario ’22
Chair of the Black Law Students Association
Welcoming Remarks
Dean James Hackney
Presentation of 2020 Spirit of Valerie Gordon Student Essay Award
Jasmine Brown ’21, recipient of the 2019 Award, presented the 2020 Award to Bianca Pickering ’22.
Presentation of 2021 Spirit of Valerie Gordon Student Essay Award
Bianca Pickering ’22, recipient of the 2020 Award, presented the 2021 Award to Princess Diaz ’23, who read an excerpt of her winning essay.
Introduction of Keynote Speaker
Elizabeth Ennen ’08, Director, Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy
Keynote Speaker: Justin Hansford
Professor of Law Director of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center Howard University
Questions and Comments from the Audience
BLSA Presentation of Gift to Keynote Speaker
Timothy Kobba ’22
Secretary of the Black Law Students Association
Closing Comments
Christian Lamar ‘93, Spouse of Valerie Gordon
The Reverend Dr. Carolyn Gordon, Sister of Valerie Gordon
  • 2020

    (Postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic)
    Professor Tiffany Joseph (Northeastern University, Associate Professor of Sociology and International Affairs) was scheduled to deliver the 2020 Valerie Gordon Human Rights Lecture on “Displacement, Citizenship and Human Rights Challenges for the 21st Century.” PHRGE hopes to re-schedule this lecture in the future.

    2020 Valerie Gordon Book Award
    Bianca Pickering ’22 was the winner of the 2020 Valerie Gordon essay contest.

    2019

    Alfred Brownell, Associate Research Professor and Distinguished Scholar in Residence, Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy, Northeastern University School of Law; Beau Biden Inaugural Chair, Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF)
    Wednesday, April 17, 2019: “Resilience, Resistance and the Law: Innovative Strategies for Stopping Discriminatory Land Grabs.”
    >> View photos

    Valerie Gordon Book Award
    Jasmine Brown ’21 was the winner of the 2019 Valerie Gordon essay contest.

    2018

    Valerie Gordon Book Award
    Hakeem M. Muhammad '20 was the winner of the 2018 Valerie Gordon essay contest. His winning essay was entitled, “Angela Davis: A South African Moment for Palestine.”

    2017

    Bryan Stevenson, Founder and Executive Director, Equal Justice Initiative, Montgomery, Alabama
    September 5, 2017: "Young People Changing the World: Four Powerful Steps"
    >> View photos

    Valerie Gordon Essay Contest
    Siri Nelson '19 was the winner of the 2017 Valerie Gordon essay contest for her essay entitled, "Black Lives Matter in Every Town: An Argument for Scaling Up Existing Reconciliatory Practices in the United States."

    2016

    Morten Kjaerum, Director, Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Sweden
    April 13, 2016: "Racism and Inclusion: Where is Europe Headed?"
    >> View photos

    2015

    Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director and Director, Center for Advocacy, ACLU
    March 18, 2015: "Guantánamo and the Legacy of Torture"
    >> View photos 

    Valerie Gordon Essay Contest
    “Solitary Confinement: A Human Rights Violation and Instrument of Torture” by Tara Dunn ’17.

    2014

    Penelope Andrews, Dean and President, Albany Law School
    >> View photos

    Valerie Gordon Essay Contest
    "An Emerging Reparations Movement: African American Women in Leadership and Litigation," by Quinn Kareem Rallins ’17.

    2013

    Philip Alston, John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law, New York University School of Law
    >> View photos

    2012

    Terry McGovern, Senior Program Officer, Gender, Rights and Equality Unit, Ford Foundation
    >> View photos

    2011

    Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Associate Professor of Law and Development and Director of the Program on Human Rights and Justice, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
    >> View photos

    2010

    The Honorable Manuel Cepeda, Former President and Magistrate (retired), Constitutional Court of Colombia
    >> View photos

    Valerie Gordon Essay Contest
    Winning Essay written by Bomopregha Julius ’13.

    2009

    Hauwa Ibrahim, Nigerian Human Rights Lawyer

    Valerie Gordon Essay Contest

    “Atoning a Fundamental Wrong: The United States' Denial of Education as a Human Right and its Undue Burdens on the Black Community,” by Rashida Richardson ’11.

    2008

    Gay McDougall, Independent Expert on Minority Issues, United Nations

    Valerie Gordon Essay Contest
    “Explore the Tulsa Riot of 1921 in Greenwood Oklahoma,” by Dana Luke ’10.

     2007

    Harold Koh, Dean and and Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law, Yale Law School

    Valerie Gordon Essay Contest
    “Explore the armed forces current recruitment strategies, emboldened by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, in a human rights as well as civil rights context, incorporating arguments as they relate to the Black community,” by Janeen Blake ’09.

    2006

    Carol Anderson, Associate Professor of History, University of Missouri-Columbia

    Valerie Gordon Essay Contest
    “Explore the human rights implications of Hurricane Katrina Winning Essay,” by Kaleema Nur ’08.

    2005

    Jaribu Hill , Executive Director and Founder, Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights

    Valerie Gordon Essay Contest
    Winning Essay written by Melanie Nesbitt ’07.

    2004

    Gerard Quinn, Professor of Law, National University of Ireland (Galway)

    Valerie Gordon Essay Contest
    “Given the recent Bollinger decisions, is Affirmative Action still a relevant legal issue for African American lawyers? If so, what is the best argument for Affirmative Action?,” by Michelle Fleming ’06.

    2003

    Abdullahi An-Na’im, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law, Emory University School of Law

    2002

    Charles Ogletree Jr, Jesse Climenko Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

    2001

    Makau Mutua, Professor of Law, SUNY-Buffalo School of Law

    2000

    Adrien Wing, Professor of Law, University of Iowa College of Law

    1999

    Loretta Ross, Executive Director, Center for Human Rights Education

    1998

    The Honorable Albert Louis Sachs, Justice, Constitutional Court of South Africa