Shaw ’76 Delivers Keynote Address at Wesleyan’s MLK Commemoration

Theodore Shaw ‘76, Hon. ’14 spoke on “Freedom is a Constant Struggle” during Wesleyan’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration Feb. 3 in Memorial Chapel.

Theodore Shaw ‘76, Hon. ’14 spoke during Wesleyan’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration Feb. 3 in Memorial Chapel. “Martin Luther King’s challenge to this country was a radical challenge to racism and segregation and discrimination, and to violence, and to militarism,” Shaw said. “We often forget who Martin Luther King was.”

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Kaiyana Cervera ’19 provided an overview of Wesleyan’s annual commemoration prior to Shaw’s talk.

Henry Martellier ’19 welcomed Shaw back to Wesleyan and provided information on his biography. Shaw is the Julius L. Chambers Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina School of Law at Chapel Hill. Professor Shaw was the fifth Director-Counsel and President of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., for which he worked in various capacities over the span of 26 years. He received a BA with Honors from Wesleyan in 1976 and was awarded an honorary degree from Wesleyan in 2014. He earned a J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1979.

Henry Martellier ’19 welcomed Shaw back to Wesleyan and provided information on his biography. Shaw, he explained, is the Julius L. Chambers Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina School of Law at Chapel Hill. Professor Shaw was the fifth Director-Counsel and President of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., for which he worked in various capacities over the span of 26 years. He received a BA with Honors from Wesleyan in 1976 and was awarded an honorary degree from Wesleyan in 2014. He earned a J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1979.

“We find ourselves in an America that I don’t recognize," Shaw said. "This is a time that is extremely dangerous. This is our time. Each of you will have to figure out what that means because we will be held accountable for what we did during our time. I encourage you to speak up. I encourage you not to be intimidated. I encourage you to engage in struggle ... I encourage you to support organizations that are defending constitutional rights in this country. Find your way to be inspired."

“We find ourselves in an America that I don’t recognize,” Shaw said. “This is a time that is extremely dangerous. This is our time. Each of you will have to figure out what that means because we will be held accountable for what we did during our time. I encourage you to speak up. I encourage you not to be intimidated. I encourage you to engage in struggle … I encourage you to support organizations that are defending constitutional rights in this country. Find your way to be inspired.”

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Jordan Watson sung “A Change is Going to Come.”

Between 1962 and 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. visited Wesleyan four times. In 1964, he received an honorary degree and delivered the baccalaureate sermon during commencement.

Between 1962 and 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. visited Wesleyan four times. In 1964, he received an honorary degree and delivered the baccalaureate sermon during commencement. Shaw recalls Martin Luther King Jr.’s visits to Wesleyan as a “mini retreat.”

The event was organized by the Office of Equity and inclusion. (Photos by Rebecca Goldfarb Terry '19)

The event was organized by the Office of Equity and inclusion. (Photos by Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19)

Listen to an interview with Shaw in this Careers by Design podcast.