Donna Brazile, Political Strategist, Headlines W&L’s King Birthday Celebration

Donna Brazile

Donna Brazile

Donna Brazile, the veteran political strategist, will deliver the keynote speech of Washington and Lee University's celebration of the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. on Sunday, Jan. 26, at 5:30 p.m. in Lee Chapel on the W&L campus. Her talk is free and open to the public and will be streamed live online. There will be a reception and book signing in Evans Hall following the address.

Watch the live broadcast >

Other King birthday events at W&L from Jan. 18 to Jan. 23 include presentations by Washington and Lee professors, programs at the W&L Law School, a musical performance, a birthday party for local children and a supper of reflections. All events are free and open to the public, and all will take place on the W&L campus, except for the Jan. 18 concert. A complete schedule is at the end of this story.

Donna Brazile worked on every presidential campaign from 1976 through 2000, when she became the first African-American to manage a presidential campaign. She is the former interim national chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) as well as the former chair of the DNC's Voting Rights Institute.

She founded and is the managing director of Brazile & Associates L.L.C., a general consulting, grassroots advocacy and training firm based in Washington.

A native of New Orleans, Brazile served on the Louisiana Recovery Board in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. She also serves as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.

Brazile has published a best-selling memoir, "Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics." She is a syndicated newspaper columnist for Universal Uclick, a columnist for Ms. Magazine and O, the Oprah Magazine, and an on-air contributor to CNN and ABC, where she regularly appears on ABC's "This Week." She also has made cameo acting appearances on CBS's "The Good Wife" and on Netflix's "House of Cards."

In August 2009, O, the Oprah Magazine chose Brazile as one of its 20 "remarkable visionaries" for its first O Power List. In addition, she was named one of the 100 Most Powerful Women by Washingtonian magazine and one of the Top 50 Women in America by Essence magazine. She has received the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's highest award for political achievement.

Brazile's talk will be followed by a reception and book signing in Evans Hall.

Washington and Lee will conduct several other events during the week, including:

On Jan. 20, at the Founders' Day/Omicron Delta Kappa Convocation, Lucas Morel, the Class of 1960 Professor of Ethics at Washington and Lee, will deliver the keynote address, "Ever Mindful of the Past: Building an Honorable Community." ODK, the national leadership honor society founded at W&L in 1914, will hold its annual inductions of law and undergraduate students as well as honorary members. Morel, the head of the W&L Politics Department, will offer thoughts about leadership, including Martin Luther King's, and about how the past can help us work toward a better future. It takes place at 11:45 a.m. in Lee Chapel.

Also on Jan. 20, the W&L Law School will host law and undergraduate alumni discussing "In Pursuit of MLK's Dream through Law, Philanthropy and Politics," and hear the keynote speech by Wilbert Rideau, a convicted killer and a former death-row inmate who is now an author, lecturer and capital-defense consultant. The panel discussion takes place at 3 p.m. in the Moot Court Room of Lewis Hall at the Law School; Rideau's speech is at 4 p.m. in the same place.

On Jan. 22, four W&L professors—Melina Bell, Ted DeLaney, Tim Diette and Howard Pickett—will lead a discussion, "Poverty, Inequality and Race: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Passion for Economic Justice." Attendees may bring their lunch to Northen Auditorium in Leyburn Library; the event is 12:30 to 1:15 p.m.

And on Jan. 23, Margaret Hu, a W&L law professor, will conduct a discussion, "Big Data Blacklisting." The event takes place at noon in the Moot Court Room of Lewis Hall at the Law School.

The complete schedule:

Washington and Lee University
Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration
Jan. 18–Jan. 23, 2014

All events are open to the public and free of charge. All events take place on the W&L campus except the Jan. 18 concert.

Saturday, Jan. 18

7:30 p.m.—Martin Luther King Jr. "I Have a Dream" Concert First Baptist Church, 103 N. Main St., Lexington
A dramatic reading of King's "I Have a Dream" speech interspersed with musical commentary and works performed by the W&L University Singers, Cantatrici, the Men's Glee Club and the MLK Combo.

Monday, Jan. 20

11:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.—Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Party Celebration
Elrod Commons
Games, fun and food for the children of Rockbridge County. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

11:45 a.m.— Founders' Day/ODK Convocation
Lee Chapel
Lucas Morel, Class of 1960 Professor of Ethics at Washington and Lee, "Ever Mindful of the Past: Building an Honorable Community." This event also features the induction of new members into ODK.

3:00 p.m.—Panel Discussion
Law School, Lewis Hall, Moot Court Room
"In Pursuit of MLK's Dream through Law, Philanthropy and Politics" A moderated discussion, organized by Hernandez Stroud '14L, featuring three W&L Law alumni and one undergraduate alumnus on how their civic, personal and professional efforts since graduation have contributed to the broader ideals and mission associated with King.

4:00 p.m.—Keynote Speech by Wilbert Rideau
Law School, Lewis Hall, Moot Court Room
In 1961, the state of Louisiana condemned 19-year-old Wilbert Rideau to death for murder. He survived the next 44 years in solitary confinement on death row, followed by life imprisonment in Louisiana's notorious Angola State Prison. In the process he became America's most celebrated and successful prison journalist, and an eloquent voice for the excluded and forgotten people who compose our country's vast prison population. Released after a retrial in 2005, Rideau continues his work as a writer on criminal justice, punishment and prisons, and as a defense consultant in death penalty cases. His message and his very presence challenge us to remember King's message of inclusion, equality and respect for all.

6–8:00 p.m.—Community Reflections

Evans Hall
King's life and legacy will be commemorated with personal testimonies from members of the Washington and Lee and Lexington communities. A buffet dinner will be provided. Please RSVP online.

Wednesday, Jan. 22
12:30–1:15 p.m.—Brown Bag Lunch Panel Discussion: "Poverty, Inequality and Race: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Passion for Economic Justice"
Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library
Melina Bell, associate professor of philosophy; Ted DeLaney, associate professor of history, head of the History Department; Tim Diette, associate professor of economics; Howard Pickett, director and assistant professor of the Shepherd Poverty Program.

Thursday, Jan. 23
12:00 p.m.—Brown Bag Lunch: "Big Data Blacklisting"
Law School, Sydney Lewis Hall, Moot Court Room
Margaret Hu, assistant professor of law at W&L and a former civil rights lawyer for the Department of Justice, will facilitate a discussion on how cyber surveillance and data surveillance pose new challenges to civil rights and civil liberties. Lunch will be provided.

Sunday, Jan. 26
5:30 p.m.—Martin Luther King Jr. Keynote Speaker: Donna Brazile
Lee Chapel
Donna Brazile, the veteran political strategist, will deliver the keynote speech of Washington and Lee University's celebration of the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. A reception and book signing will follow in Evans Hall.

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