Judge Williams HeadshotThe Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. Lecture Series, named after Judge Williams is dedicated to recognizing those individuals and organizations whose exemplary commitment to education, justice, and ethics inspires excellence and promotes the advancement of equity, pluralism, civic discourse, and democracy. Each year the lecture focuses on one of the Center's three pillars: Education, Justice, and Ethics. During the event, a key note speaker will deliver an address to the audience and 3 organizations advancing the specific pillar will be honored. It is a day to celebrate the work of the Center and the many other organizations and individuals who are working to make this world an equitable one. 

 

The 4th Annual Lecture will be focused on ethics. If you are interested in inquiring about opportunities to work in conjunction with the Center on this important topic please contact Karen Bond at kybond [at] umd.edu  

Check out what the Center has done for the past three lectures below!

Abolishing the Opportunity Gap Advancing Equity and Excellence in Public Education

On November 14, 2019, the Judge AW Center hosted the second annual lecture which this year was centered on the theme of Education. Rev. Dr. Alvin Thorton, chair of the Prince George's County Board of Education spoke about the inequities within public education and inspired the audience to continue their commitment to advancing solutions to this issue.  

In addition to hearing Thorton's empowering lecture, the Center honored 3 organizations committed to continuously advocating for equity in education.

  1. Loving 2 Learn Childcare Center
  2. Beloved Community Services, Inc.
  3. The International Dyslexia Association (DCIDA)

For highlights from the lecture, check out the below video that is also on the Center's YouTube channel.

 

Erica Suter Speaking"More Than The Worst": Wrongful Convictions, Mass Incarceration, And Embracing The Challenges Ahead

On November 11, 2021, the Judge AW Center hosted the third annual lecture which this year was centered on the theme of Justice. Professor Erica J. Suter, Director of the Innocence Project Clinic at the University of Baltimore School of Law shared inspiring remarks about the continuous fight to bring justice to those wrongly convicted. Below are few of the many empowering quotes that were embedded within the lecture:

  1. "If you come to my home or my office you will see pictures of birds and bird figurines.  You will find bird feeders in my yard.  I love them for a simple reason.  They seem free to me. Every time I visit a client in prison I look for the birds because the idea that something can fly up and over those walls and fences whenever it wants gives me hope, the idea that something can choose to move away from what it knows and toward something it can’t yet see, gives me hope. In order to transform our criminal legal system and our society, which are inextricably linked, we must have the courage and vision to believe in something we cannot yet see, that something different is possible; and, that the unfamiliar and the uncomfortable are part of the path. "
  2. "9, 344, 000 days.  Nine Million Three Hundred Forty Four Thousand Days. 25, 600 years lost.  As of 2021, Exonerees, According to the National Registry of Exonerations served a collective 9, 344,00 days.  Men and women who were innocent of the crimes of which they were convicted. In Maryland, according to the Registry, just as of last week, there have been 42 exonerations since 1989.  And those exonerees have served a collective, 221, 555 days, 607 years."
  3. "An exoneration is a very particular thing.  It requires working against a system that is designed to preserve convictions.  Our criminal legal system worships at the altar of finality.  By the time someone has been convicted and sentenced, the burden is on them to prove that something went wrong with the trial.  The law presumes that the jury got it right and the opportunities to challenge that verdict are few and far between.  Even for the innocent, it is like threading the eye of a needle, while riding in a bus, being driven over a street filled with potholes.... On average, an exoneration takes about 7.5 years.... The exonerees are simply the ones that the public eventually knows about.  The exonerees are the miracles."
  4. "The path ahead toward a more just and equitable society is not a straight line.  It will inevitably involve joyous victories and painful defeats, but to quote Angela Davis, 'You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world.  And you have to do it all the time.'"

In addition to hearing Suter's empowering remarks, throughout the lecture the Center honored 3 organizations committed to continuously pushing for justice.

  1. The first honoree was the Innocence Project Clinic at the University of Baltimore School of Law, which fights for the rights of those wrongly convicted and has won several cases to exonarate and free them.
  2. The second honoree was the Bridge Center at the Adam’s House in Prince George’s County—a one-stop shop for returning citizens that provides critical supports needed to facilitate successfully reintegrate into their communities.
  3. The final honoree was The Victim’s Rights Foundation, an organization supporting victims of violent crime.

For highlights from the lecture, check out the below video that is also on the Center's YouTube channel.

Check out some of the powerful images captured at the lecture!

Check out this video for the full lecture from Erica J. Suter.