Civil rights attorney, advocate and legal scholar Michelle Alexander — who wrote that many of the gains of the civil rights movement have been undermined by the mass incarceration of black Americans in the war on drugs — will be a featured keynote speaker at Northwestern University’s 2015 commemoration of the life and legacy of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Another keynote address will be delivered by Carol Moseley Braun, who in 1992 became the first African-American woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate.

The 10-day 2015 celebration will begin Jan. 17 with a Day of Service. Northwestern students will engage in various service projects and reflect on their experiences.

Northwestern has suspended classes Monday, Jan. 19 on the Evanston and Chicago campuses for a University-wide, full-day observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

That evening Moseley Braun will speak at 7 p.m. at the Alpha Phi Alpha Candlelight Vigil at Alice Millar Chapel. An Eva Jefferson Day event will be held that day from 8:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. for Chicago Public School students and will include arts, crafts and a discussion about the legacy of Martin Luther King.

Evanston campus observances will conclude Jan. 26 with an evening program at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall featuring a keynote address by Michelle Alexander and music and performances from Northwestern student groups. All events are free and open to the public, unless noted.

A Jan. 19 Student Oratorical contest will take place at Norris University Center’s McCormick Auditorium.

A Jan. 30 Harambee (Swahili for “pull together”), from 7 to 10 p.m., in Norris University Center’s Louis Room, will feature free food, performances and presentations. For Evanston campus event details, visit www.northwestern.edu/mlk/program-ev.html.

Alexander holds a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University.

Prior to joining the Kirwan Institute, Alexander was an associate professor of law at Stanford Law School, where she directed the civil rights clinics.

In 2005, she won a Soros Justice Fellowship, which supported the writing of her highly-lauded first book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.”

Moseley Braun is a former candidate for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States. She served as ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, United States senator from Illinois, Cook County executive officer, Illinois state representative and United States attorney.

A women’s and civil rights activist, she transitioned to the private sector in 2001 after nearly 30 years in public service. In 2005, she founded Good Foods Organics, a premium, Certified USDA Organic and Biodynamic products company.

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