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Conversation with Sherrilyn Ifill

Ifill sitting with her hands in her lap and smiling.
Sherrilyn Ifill. Photo by Kevin Grady/Harvard Radcliffe Institute

The civil rights lawyer and scholar Sherrilyn Ifill will join Tomiko Brown-Nagin, dean of Harvard Radcliffe Institute, in conversation about the recent United States Supreme Court decisions on affirmative action and access to higher education.

Harvard Radcliffe Institute gratefully acknowledges the Perrin Moorhead Grayson and Bruns Grayson Dean's Leadership Fund for Academic Ventures, which is supporting this event.

Civil Rights Scholar Sherrilyn Ifill Discusses End of Affirmative Action at Harvard Radcliffe Event (Harvard Crimson, 10/19/23)


Sherrilyn Ifill holds the inaugural Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., Esq. Endowed Chair in Civil Rights at Howard University School of Law, where she will lead the 14th Amendment Center for Law & Democracy in collaboration with a variety of institutions in law, business, and the arts, including the Charles Hamilton Houston Center at Harvard Law School. The 2022 recipient of the Radcliffe Medal, the Institute’s highest honor, Ifill is the current Steven and Maureen Klinsky Visiting Professor of Practice for Leadership and Progress at Harvard Law School.

Prior to her appointment at Howard, Ifill was for nine years the president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), the nation’s premier civil rights law organization fighting for racial justice and equality, which was founded by legendary civil rights lawyer Thurgood Marshall. She began her career as a fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union before joining the staff of LDF as assistant counsel in 1988. In 1993, she joined the faculty at the University of Maryland School of Law, where she taught civil procedure and constitutional law to thousands of law students while continuing to litigate and consult on a broad range of civil rights cases. In 2013, Ifill became LDF’s seventh director-counsel. Under her leadership, LDF litigated urgent civil rights issues and fought voter suppression, inequity in education, and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.

Ifill graduated from Vassar College and New York University School of Law and is a recipient of numerous honorary doctoral degrees and awards. She served on the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States and serves on the boards of the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Learning Policy Institute, and the New York University School of Law and on the committee of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. Ifill was recognized by Time magazine in 2021 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Tomiko Brown-Nagin is dean, Harvard Radcliffe Institute; Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School; and professor of history, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Event Video

Play video of conversation with Sherrilyn Ifill

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