Civil Rights Leaders to Speak at Williams Commencement

Article ID: 29091

Released: 17-Apr-2002 12:00 AM EDT

Source Newsroom: Williams College

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WILLIAMSTOWN, MASS., April 16, 2002 --Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center and the center's chief trial counsel, will be the principal speaker at Williams College's 213th Commencement exercises on Sunday, June 2. Antonia Hernandez, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, will be the featured Baccalaureate speaker on Saturday, June 1. President of the College Morton Owen Schapiro will confer honorary degrees to both of them as well as to Norman Borlaug, Frank Gehry, Raymond F. Henze III, Robert Moses, and Anna Jacobson Schwartz.

Morris DeesCommencement Speaker

Mr. Dees specializes in lawsuits involving civil rights violations and racially motivated crimes and has long used lawsuits to destroy the finances of hate groups.

Born in 1936, in Shorter, Ala., Dees is a graduate of the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama Law School. He turned to his crusade for Civil Rights after selling a successful publishing company that he founded following his graduation from the law school in 1961.

For his civil rights work, Dees has received numerous awards, including the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice's Trial Lawyer of the Year Award in 1987, and the National Education Association's Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award in 1990. The American Bar Association awarded him its Young Lawyers Distinguished Service Award, and the American Civil Liberties Union honored him with its Roger Baldwin Award. Colleges and universities have recognized his accomplishments with honorary degrees, and the University of Alabama gave him its Humanitarian Award in 1993.

Mr. Dees is the author of "Gathering Storm: America's Militia Threat," which explores the dangers posed by domestic terrorist groups; "Hate on Trial: The Case Against America's Most Dangerous Neo-Nazi;" and "Season of Justice," an autobiography. A made-for-television movie about his life, "Line of Fire," aired on NBC in 1991 and he was portrayed in the 1996 movie "Ghosts of Mississippi" about the life of slain civil rights worker Medgar Evers.

Antonia HernandezBaccalaureate Speaker

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) is the most prominent Latino civil rights organization in the country. The fund focuses on immigrant rights, employment discrimination, educational inequities, U.S. Census figures, redistricting, voting, and language rights.

Ms. Hernandez began work there in 1981 as a staff attorney in the Washington office, and has spent the last 21 years fighting legal battles that have altered the political landscape. She was elected president of the fund in 1985, and is responsible for managing a nearly $6 million budget, a 75-person staff in offices across the country, and litigation and advocacy programs.

An expert in civil rights and immigration issues, Ms. Hernandez began her professional career as a staff attorney with the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice. She was directing attorney for the Lincoln Heights office of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and staff counsel of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

She was born in northern Mexico in 1948 and came to the United States with her family when she was eight. She received her bachelor's degree and a teaching certificate from UCLA and graduated from UCLA Law School. In 1996, she was among the first seven recipients of the American Bar Association Spirit of Excellence Award.

Norman Borlaug

Dr. Borlaug is a leader in improving agricultural techniques and food production in developing nations. In 1970 he became the first agricultural scientist to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

During the 1960s, he took high-yielding, disease-resistant "Mexican" wheat he had developed to Asia, where it ended famine in India and Pakistan. His approach to agricultural development began in Mexico in 1944, when he was hired to lead a wheat research program to tackle that nation's food crisis. He held this position until his official retirement in 1979. Since 1986, in collaboration with Former President Jimmy Carter and the Nippon Foundation of Japan, he has led an agricultural development program in sub-Saharan Africa.

Since 1984, Dr. Borlaug, who served on the U.S. Presidential Commission of World Hunger and the U.S. President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, has been Distinguished Professor of International Agriculture at Texas A&M University.

He was born in 1914 to Norwegian parents who owned a 56-acre farm near Cresco, Iowa. He received his B.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. As a college student in 1935-36, he worked in Hopkins Memorial Forest in Williamstown, setting up permanent plots in the newly formed U.S. Forest Service site.

Frank Gehry

Mr. Gehry's architecture has received worldwide recognition and scores of awards including the American Institute of Architect's Gold Medal and the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

He is a firm believer that "architecture is art." I approach every object as a sculptural object, a spatial container, a space with light and air, a response to context and appropriateness of feeling and spirit," he has said. "If I can't do that, I've failed."

Born in Toronto in 1929, Mr. Gehry is a naturalized U.S. citizen. He graduated from the University of Southern California and began work with Victor Gruen Associates. After a year in the army, he began study at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and received his M.A. in 1957. He returned to Los Angeles and briefly worked for Pereira and Luckman, then rejoined Gruen. In 1961, he moved to Paris, where he worked for a year and studied works by LeCorbusier and Balthasar Neumann.

In 1962 he returned to Los Angeles and set up his own firm, which produces "built reality" in America, Japan, and Europe, including his masterpiece, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

Raymond F. Henze III

Mr. Henze is group managing director of Trust Company of the West (TCW) with responsibility for groups providing private equity to corporations in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. He was president of Pacific Holding Company, a private corporation with interests in consumer products, shipping, and real estate.

A 1974 graduate of Williams, he was elected a trustee of the college in 1987. In 1998 he was appointed chair of the board's Executive Committee for a term that ends this June.

He is also chair of the board's Committee on Trustees and has chaired its Alumni Relations and Development and Buildings and Grounds Committees. He has served on the Budget and Financial Planning, Degrees, and Finance Committees as well as the college's Bicentennial Commission. In the college's most recent capital campaign, he served on the Campaign Planning Committee, co-chaired the National Special Gifts effort, chaired the Los Angeles Special Gifts Committee, and was a member of the Los Angeles Major Gifts Committee. He also served on the fund-raising committee for the Faison Pierson Stoddard Professorship and as a class agent for the college's Alumni Fund. He chaired the 1999-2000 Presidential Search Committee.

Mr. Henze is a former member of the Executive Committee of the Society of Alumni and chair of its Career Counseling Committee.

He is also a trustee of Greenwich Academy in Connecticut and chair of its Investment Committee.

Robert Moses

Dr. Moses is one of the most influential black leaders of the Southern civil rights struggle. Born in 1935 in Harlem, he spent his early years in a public housing project. He graduated from Stuyvesant High School, won a scholarship to Hamilton College, and earned an M.A. in philosophy from Harvard University.

During the late 1950s he became increasingly active in the black protest movement, and in 1960 went to Atlanta to work with Martin Luther King Jr.'s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He left SCLC to work for the new Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and spent four years in Mississippi working on voter registration.

He left Mississippi in 1964 and returned to Harvard to complete his doctorate in philosophy. Temporarily changing his name to Bob Parris, he participated in several rallies against the Vietnam War, and went to Canada to avoid the military draft. He later resumed his graduate studies in philosophy at Harvard and in 1982 received a MacArthur Foundation award to continue his studies. Today he is involved in education reform, particularly Project Algebra, a national mathematics literacy effort that helps low income students and students of color gain the mathematical skills that are a prerequisite for full citizenship.

Anna Jacobson Schwartz

Dr. Schwartz has been a pioneer among women economists. She is an authority on economic history, monetary economics, international monetary systems, and monetary statistics. Her writing and research have been instrumental in establishing the concept that changes in the money supply are the primary cause of changes in general economic conditions.

She is most widely known for three monumental books on American and British monetary history, which she wrote with Milton Friedman, including "Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960."

She joined the National Bureau of Economic Research in 1941, where she has done most of her research and writing, and is now economist emerita. In 1982, she was staff director of the U.S. Gold Commission. She is co-author with Michael Bordo of "The Gold Standard and Related Regimes."

Born in New York in 1915, Dr. Schwartz earned her B.A. at Barnard College and her Ph.D. at Columbia University. She has taught at Hunter College, New York University, Baruch College, and Brooklyn College. She has served on editorial boards for the American Economic Review, the Journal of Monetary Economics, and the Journal of Money, Credit and Banking.END

Contact Jo Procter, college news director, (413) 597-4279email:


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