×

The Future of Civil Rights: A Conversation with Sherrilyn Ifill

March 22 at 5:30–6:45 p.m.

Across society, and especially among younger generations, faith in institutions is faltering —and at the very same moment when many are worried about the erosion of Civil Rights. As we look to the future, can established institutions deliver the change we need? Will new grassroots movements break through? What role might churches and other faith-based institutions play in building a better society? How can we achieve a country that makes good on the promise of "liberty and justice for all"?

Dr. Heath W. Carter will explore these questions and more in conversation with Civil Rights champion Sherillyn Ifill. Join us in-person at Princeton Theological Seminary's Wright Library; the event will not be live-streamed.

If you can't make the event, but would like to view previous interviews or receive information about upcoming conversations and resources in the Future of American Democracy series, please sign up here.

Register Now

Leaders

Foad sherillyn Ifill

Sherrilyn Ifill served as the seventh President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) from 2013 to 2022, and currently serves as President and Director-Counsel Emeritus. Ifill, the second woman to ever lead LDF, provided visionary and transformational leadership during one of the most consequential and intense moments in our nation’s history. She began her career as a Fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union, before joining the staff of the LDF as an Assistant Counsel in 1988, where she litigated voting rights cases for five years.

For over 20 years, Ifill taught civil procedure and constitutional law to thousands of law students at the University of Maryland School of Law in Baltimore and pioneered a series of law clinics, including one of the earliest law clinics in the country, focused on challenging legal barriers to the reentry of ex-offenders. Ifill is also a prolific scholar who has published academic articles in leading law journals, and op-eds and commentaries in leading newspapers. Her 2007 book, On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century, was highly acclaimed, and is credited with laying the foundation for contemporary conversations about lynching and reconciliation.

In 2013, Ifill was invited back to the Legal Defense Fund – this time to lead the organization as its 7th Director-Counsel. In that role, Ifill increased the visibility and engagement of the organization in litigating cutting-edge and urgent civil rights issues and elevating the organization’s decades-long leadership fighting voter suppression, inequity in education, and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. At critical moments during national political and civil rights crises, Ifill’s voice and vision have powerfully influenced our national dialogue. Ifill is a frequent public commentator on racial justice issues, known for her fact-based, richly contextualized analysis of complex racial issues. She is a trusted and valued advisor to civic and community leaders, national civil rights colleagues, and business leaders.

Among many honors, Ifill is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees, and was recently named one of TIME Magazine’s Women of the Year. In 2021, she was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the world in 2021, one of Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year, honored with a 2021 Spirit of Excellence Award by the American Bar Association, and named Attorney of the Year by The American Lawyer in 2020. In 2022, Ifill will receive the prestigious Brandeis Medal, named for Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, and the American Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award.

Ifill graduated from Vassar College in 1984 with a B.A. in English and earned her J.D. from New York University School of Law in 1987. She has received honorary doctorates from New York University, Bard College, Fordham Law School, and CUNY Law School. In 2019, Ifill was inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. In 2020, she was named Attorney of the Year by The American Lawyer. In 2021, Ifill was appointed to President Biden’s Commission on the Supreme Court. She serves on the boards of the Learning Policy Institute, the NYU Law School of Trustees, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Profiles in Courage Advisory Board. Sherrilyn joined The Ford Foundation organization as a Senior Fellow in June 2022.

Foad heath carter

Heath W. Carter is associate professor of American Christianity at Princeton Theological Seminary, where he teaches and writes about the intersection of Christianity and American public life. He earned a BA in English and theology from Georgetown University in 2003, an MA from the University of Chicago Divinity School in 2005, and a PhD in history from the University of Notre Dame in 2012. He came to Princeton from Valparaiso University, where he was on faculty from 2012 to 2019. He spent the 2016–2017 academic year as the William S. Vaughn Visiting Fellow at Vanderbilt University.

Carter is the author of Union Made: Working People and the Rise of Social Christianity in Chicago, which was the runner up for the American Society of Church History’s 2015 Brewer Prize. He is also the co-editor of three books: The Pew and the Picket Line: Christianity and the American Working Class , Turning Points in the History of American Evangelicalism , and A Documentary History of Religion in America, 4th Ed..

He is currently working on a new book entitled On Earth as it is in Heaven: Social Christians and the Fight to End American Inequality, which retells the story of the American social gospel. This book tells the story of how little-known activists, eminent theologians, radical preachers, and progressive politicians powered faith-filled movements for a more egalitarian United States of America.

Carter is also the co-editor, with Kathryn Gin Lum and Mark Noll, of Eerdmans’s award-winning Library of Religious Biography series.


Questions

Questions about the event? Contact democracy.panels@ptsem.edu.


Health Guidelines

All guests are expected to adhere to the Seminary’s current health and wellness guidelines, including being fully vaccinated and boosted, if eligible. Our health and wellness protocols regarding COVID-19 change based on the guidance of our local health departments officials and numbers of cases in our region. As a result, protocols are fluid and requirements regarding the use of face coverings, distance, and testing may change. For the latest guidelines, click here.

Educating faithful Christian leaders.

Environmental steward at St. Paul’s Christian School

Nick Babladelis, Class of 2015

“The faculty and staff at Princeton Seminary took my interests in science and theology and gave them real direction.”