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 >
Spreading Liberty and Justice for All
Mary's Interview on the Tavis Smiley Show
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 Voting Rights Act of 1965 is the crowning achievement of the civil rights movement, the product of sacrifice, protests, lawsuits and legislation. In 2013 civil rights activists were stunned to see one of its key provisions invalidated by the Supreme Court. Dr. Mary Frances Berry, a civil rights veteran, looks at the impact of this decision, how it affected the 2016 presidential election, and how we must continue to fight against voter identification laws and other forms of voter suppression. Long concerned with how voter suppression and fraud in national, state and local campaigns influence the results, she examines how goals such as Medicaid expansion, fairness in sentencing, equitable education funding and fair and effective policing will remain elusive until we increase political participation and fairly enforce the voting rights laws.
"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."