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Renowned Civil Rights Activist Kathleen Cleaver to give Armstrong-Branch Lecture Feb. 19

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Kathleen N. Cleaver, a prominent and influential figure in the American Civil Rights Movement who continues to fight for social justice across the country and around the world, will be the keynote speaker for the 2019 Armstrong-Branch Distinguished Lecture Series at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m., in Bennett Auditorium on the University’s Hattiesburg campus. Admission is free and open to the public.

Cleaver’s fight for human rights spans seven decades, ventures across national and international borders, and includes service with notable public interest organizations. She is best known for her involvement with the Black Panther Party (BPP) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the 1960s.

Cleaver lived in exile in Algeria and France with her former husband and BPP leader, Eldridge Cleaver, before returning to the United States in 1975. She later earned a Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, from Yale University and a Juris Doctorate from Yale Law School.

"We count it a privilege and honor to have Attorney Kathleen Cleaver agree to be the speaker for the 2019 Armstrong - Branch Lecture,” said Dr. Eddie Holloway, dean of students at USM. “Her contributions to the civil rights movement make her a great choice for this event, as Hattiesburg and Forrest County figured significantly in the 1964 Freedom Summer movement."

As a senior lecturer and research fellow at Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Cleaver focuses on the U.S. law of citizenship and race. Her teaching, writing and film projects have influenced generations with her unique perspective and commitment to racial, social and economic justice.

“Kathleen Cleaver is one of the most important leaders of the black freedom movement and continues as a longstanding advocate for social justice in the United States,” said Dr. Rebecca Tuuri, assistant professor of history at USM and an affiliate faculty member of the University’s Center for Black Studies. “Our students and faculty are incredibly fortunate for the opportunity to learn from this legendary freedom fighter.”

The Armstrong-Branch Distinguished Lecture Series was established in 1993 in honor of Gwendolyn Armstrong-Chamberlain and Raylawni Adams Branch, the first African-American students to integrate USM in 1965.

For more information about the Armstrong-Branch Distinguished Lecture Series, contact the USM Dean of Students office at 601.266.6028 or at



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