Celebration set for civil rights center opening


The two-story, 10,000-square-foot Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights building features classrooms, conference rooms, student organization space and a lecture hall. The grand opening is scheduled for Oct. 19.

Wayne State University Law School will celebrate the grand opening of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights on Wednesday, Oct. 19.

The Keith Center honors the life and legacy of Keith, civil rights icon, a 1956 Wayne Law alumnus.

The center is aimed at advancing  learning at Wayne Law, encourage community engagement and promote civil rights.

“Judge Keith is truly an icon in the historic march toward equality and justice for all in this country,” said Professor Peter Hammer, director of the Keith Center. “We are fortunate to have his wisdom and experience to guide us.

“Through programs of scholarly legal study, community outreach, public interest law and public lectures by prominent civil rights leaders, the Keith Center will be a major contributor to civil rights education in Detroit and beyond.”

The two-story, 10,000-square-foot building features classrooms, conference rooms, student organization space and a lecture hall.

A focal point of the center is an interactive exhibit, Marching Toward Justice: The History of the Fourteenth Amendment, which will be unveiled prior to the grand opening ceremony.

The center has been graciously supported by donations from prominent foundations and philanthropists in the Detroit area and elsewhere, including A. Alfred Taubman, the Henry Ford II Fund, the Edsel B. Ford II Fund, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the DTE Energy Foundation and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

In 2009, the law school moved forward on center programming initiatives with the help of more than $2.5 million in endowments.

Since then, a variety of programs have taken place including: RightsFest, a one-day, pan-ethnic civil rights film festival co-sponsored with the Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights; and “Deconstructing the School-to-Prison Pipeline,” a symposium hosted by the Journal of Law in Society, the scholarly voice of the Keith Center.

The center also has established the Michigan Allies Project to address hate crimes and incidents of intolerance, and the Post-9/11 Civil Rights Fellowship.

On Sept. 8, the center presented the Fifth Biennial Keith Lecture featuring actor, singer and humanitarian Harry Belafonte.

A number of national and local dignitaries will participate in the Oct. 19 grand opening ceremony, which is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

Wayne Law students, alumni, staff and friends are encouraged to attend.

Reservations can be made online at specialevents.wayne.edu or by phone at 313.577.0300.