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Wayne Law welcomes Cody High School students to dedication for Marching Toward Justice

November 22, 2011

DETROIT (Nov. 22, 2011) — Approximately 25 sophomores and juniors from Detroit’s Cody High School were the special guests at a dedication ceremony for the new, interactive version of the exhibit Marching Toward Justice: The History of the Fourteenth Amendment at Wayne Law. The ceremony took place Nov. 17 at 9 a.m. in the lobby of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights, where the exhibit is housed.

Commissioned by the Damon J. Keith Law Collection of African American Legal History, the exhibit gives a thorough account, through images and text, of the history of the Fourteenth Amendment. Ratified in 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees equal rights and liberties under the Constitution to all U.S. citizens, defined as anyone born or naturalized in the United States.

Curator Robert Smith said he believes this is the largest exhibit of history in Michigan that is in a public place and not a museum. “This is the story of America’s struggle to reach its highest ideals — there is no greater story,” he said.

“This exhibit shows public school kids like yourself who went on to aspire to great things,” Keith Collection director and Keith Center Civil Rights lecturer I. India Geronimo told the group of teens. “It shows the many contributions African American lawyers made to our society.”

After viewing the exhibit and watching a civil rights documentary, students had the opportunity to talk with Judge Keith.

“His courage, regardless of all his obstacles, is very inspiring,” said Cody junior Sean Lee. “He made changes and opened up doors. And he put it in our head that our own generation needs to keep this legacy alive.”

Junior Kayla Bosley was also inspired. “I loved the video. It showed how he had to fight for what he believed in and even went up against the president,” she said. “I’m glad that he wants us to be here and wants us to do well. It made me think about going to law school.”

Marching Toward Justice examines issues including the beginning of slavery in the United States in the early 1600s, the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, and the civil rights activism of the 1950s and ’60s. Interactive, touch-screen monitors allow visitors to explore specific topics such as the Colonial Period and the Expansion of Slavery; New Black Leaders: Organizations and Philosophies; and Equal Under Law: The Enforcement of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. The exhibit also contains historical artifacts, including an actual manifest of slaves on the ship Florida, c. 1850, and an Alabama slave bill of sale from 1829. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

“I am thrilled that public schoolchildren will have an opportunity to learn about the work of civil rights giants like Thurgood Marshall and Charles Hamilton Houston,” said Judge Keith. “These pioneers were my mentors and committed to actualizing ‘equal justice under law.’”

“We are excited to welcome this first classroom visit,” said Geronimo. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to engage local schoolchildren in civil rights education and create a pipeline for them to enter the law school environment.”

The Damon J. Keith Law Collection of African American Legal History at Wayne State University Law School was created to record the history of African American lawyers and judges. It is housed in the Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne Law. The Keith Center, which celebrated its grand opening on Oct. 19, 2011, honors the life and legacy of Judge Keith by carrying out his vision for civil rights through active programs of legal studies, community engagement and public lectures by prominent civil rights leaders.

For more information on the Keith Center exhibit or to schedule a visit, contact Holly Hughes at hhughes@wayne.edu or 313-577-3620.
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Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 400 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 32,000 students.
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