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Wayne Law Announces john a. powell as Fall 2009 Damon J. Keith Distinguished Visiting Professor

June 25, 2009

DETROIT (June 25, 2009) – Wayne State University Law School is pleased to announce the appointment of john a. powell as the Law School’s Fall 2009 Damon J. Keith Distinguished Visiting Professor. The position is named in honor of the esteemed jurist and legendary champion of civil rights Judge Damon J. Keith, a Senior Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Keith received his LL.M. from Wayne Law in 1956.

“Professor powell is an internationally recognized authority on civil rights and civil liberties,” said Wayne Law Dean Robert M. Ackerman. “His expertise and experience will benefit our students a great deal academically. His appointment is a logical fit for Wayne Law, an urban educational institution with a strong interest in civil rights and community development. We are thrilled to welcome Professor powell to Wayne Law as our first Damon J. Keith Distinguished Visiting Professor.”

Professor powell will teach a seminar in The History and Culture of Race and Law, which will explore the history and culture of race in American society and how the American legal system has responded to issues of race. The seminar will address topics including Race and the State; The Civil War and Reconstruction; Jim Crow, Brown v. Board of Education, and the Rise of Colorblindness; and Modern Developments in Law and Science. 

Professor powell is executive director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University and holds the Gregory H. Williams Chair in Civil Rights & Civil Liberties at the university’s Michael E. Moritz College of Law. Previously, he founded and directed the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota; served as director of Legal Services of Greater Miami; and was national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

He has written extensively on a number of issues including structural racialization, racial justice and regionalism, concentrated poverty and urban sprawl, opportunity based housing, voting rights, affirmative action in the United States, South Africa and Brazil, racial and ethnic identity, spirituality and social justice, and the needs of citizens in a democratic society.

Professor powell earned a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law and a B.A. from Stanford University.

The Hon. Damon J. Keith was appointed to serve as a United States Court of Appeals Judge for the Sixth Circuit in 1977 by President Jimmy Carter. Prior to his appointment to the Court of Appeals, he was a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan from 1967 to 1977, where he served as Chief Judge from 1975 until he was elevated to the Court of Appeals.

As a member of the federal bench, Keith has consistently been a defender of the constitutional and civil rights of all people. He presided over many landmark cases, most notably United States v. Sinclair, which is referred to as the Keith Decision. In that decision, Keith ruled that President Nixon and the federal government were prohibited from engaging in warrantless wiretapping because it violated the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously affirmed Keith’s decision.

About Wayne Law
Wayne State University Law School has educated and served the Detroit metropolitan area since its inception as Detroit City Law School in 1927. Located at 471 West Palmer Street in Detroit’s re-energized historic cultural center, the Law School remains committed to student success and features modern lecture and court facilities, multi-media and distance learning classrooms, a 250-seat auditorium, and the Arthur Neef Law Library, which houses one of the nation's 40 largest legal collections. Taught by an internationally recognized and expert faculty, Wayne Law students experience a high-quality legal education via a growing array of hands-on curricular offerings, client clinics, and access to well over 100 internships with local and non-profit entities each year. Its 11,000 living alumni, who work in every state of the nation and more than a dozen foreign countries, are experts in their disciplines and include leading members of the local, national and international legal communities. For more information, visit www.law.wayne.edu.