Speaking to the World
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Author, Activist, Educator & Historian
For more than four decades, Dr. Mary Frances Berry has been one of the most visible and respected activists in the cause of civil rights, gender equality and social justice. Serving as Chairperson of the US Civil Rights Commission, Dr. Berry led the charge for equal rights and liberties for all Americans over the course of four Presidential administrations. A trailblazer for women and African-Americans alike, she also became the first woman of any race to head a major research university as Chancellor of the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches the history of American law and the history of law and social policy. Read More >
Dr. Berry made history as one of the founders of the monumental Free South Africa Movement (FSAM). She received the Nelson Mandela award from the South African Government for her role in organizing the FSAM, raising global awareness of South African injustice that helped to end over 40 years of apartheid. She also served as Assistant Secretary for Education in the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare, working to make these historically inequitable systems achieve a new level of fairness. A prolific author, Dr. Berry’s books cover a wide range of subjects, from the history of constitutional racism in America to the history of progressive activism. Her latest book, History Teaches Us to Resist: How Progressive Movements Have Succeeded in Challenging Times, examines the successful tactics of movements that ended the Vietnam War, jumpstarted government response to the AIDS epidemic, championed the Americans with Disabilities Act and advanced civil, women’s and LGBTQ rights—all of which she was a part of. Her previous book, Power in Words: The Stories behind Barack Obama’s Speeches, from the State House to the White House, offers insight and historical context of President Obama’s most memorable speeches.
A moving speaker who makes history come alive, Dr. Berry believes that each generation has the responsibility to make a dent in the wall of injustice. She continues to speak boldly for those who can’t speak for themselves and motivates all of us to take action. Her clarion call challenges everyone to stand up, stand tall and to never give up the fight. Read Less ^
History Teaches Us to Resist and the Power of Protest | The Daily Show
On BLM and the Importance of Protest
President Trump is by far not the first president to oppose progressive issues and policies. In fact, FDR, LBJ and Clinton were on the opposing side of issues ranging from desegregating the military to the Vietnam War to marriage equality. Drawing from her latest book, History Teaches Us to Resist: How Progressive Movements Have Succeeded in Challenging Times, Mary Frances Berry shares the winning tactics of successful movements that ended the Vietnam War, jumpstarted government response to the AIDS epidemic, championed the Americans with Disabilities Act and advanced civil, women’s and LGBTQ rights—all of which she was a part of. Speaking as both a renowned historian and courageous activist that locked arms at sit-ins and served time in jail, Dr. Berry chronicles more than 50 years of progressive victories and the winning tactics behind them. Believing that “people shouldn’t think that they can’t succeed now,” she reveals what works, what doesn’t—and what we all must do to achieve change in our communities, country and world.
"The event today seemed to be a great success! Dr. Berry was wonderful, and I got such positive feedback from everyone on the conversation. The meet and greet was also great and Dr. Berry seemed to have some nice conversations with our senior leaders. Please express our thanks to Dr. Berry again – we hope she enjoyed it as well."
"It was a success! I've already received numerous emails about how personal it seemed even though it was on Zoom. Folks loved her. We had 590 people tune in."
"Dr. Berry was very accommodating and quite helpful. I really appreciated the ease with which she interacted with everyone. She was kind enough to share a message to students personally beckoning them to strive for excellence. I very much appreciated her presence and would invite her again without hesitation. She is someone I greatly admire."
"From our perspective Dr. Berry's visit and lecture was a big success—the turnout was quite good considering it was the evening of Good Friday. She was very generous with her time, particularly after being under the weather herself and her mother's recent illness. Her accessibility made a big difference to a lot of people, particularly the graduate students. We look forward to bringing her for a return visit. Many thanks for all your help."
"Dr. Berry was outstanding!!! You all (APB) should be truly happy to have her on your roster. She gave a phenomenal presentation this past Saturday. Our evaluations forms came back with an overwhelming mark of outstanding for her presentation. Thank you so much for all that you do. As always, I look forward to working with you again."
"Her visit was awesome. The students, staff, faculty and administrators enjoyed her. She was able to provide information and challenge the mind on a diverse level. She was both academic and “real.” I really look forward to working with you and your staff in the future to continue to bring the best to ISU. In fact I am already thinking about next year."
"I think it was quite clear that she made a powerful and positive impact. She is truly one of our great leaders… and very articulate for just causes. (I personally loved her message and how she presented it)."
'Your presence certainly was the highlight of the evening and indeed helped make it a huge success. Your comments gave all of us much food for thought with its insight and challenge."
"Dr. Berry was a delight to host. She was a very engaging speaker and we enjoyed having her in Oklahoma City."
"The conference was a huge success, and I have had a tremendous amount of positive feedback from people attending the conference on your clever and skillful presentation."
"Everyone I’ve spoken with loved her. We had about 550 people at her public lecture. The breakfast and lunch went well, too. I think it was a very successful visit."
"I so appreciate her warmth, her humility, brilliance, and wisdom. As always, she was so accessible to our students, who will not soon forget this experience. Dr. Mary Frances Berry, you are a gem."
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