Mary Frances Berry, chair-woman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, will deliver the Martin Luther King, Jr. Com-memorative Address. Her speech, “Empowering the Dream: Reaffirming the American Ideals of Freedom, Justice and Opportunity for All,” will be presented at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 1.

The speech, given in Strong Auditorium, is free and open to the public.

The civil rights commission is an oversight panel that examines civil rights questions and issues reports on events such as the 2000 presidential election. Berry testified before the U.S. Senate that the commission’s investigation found evidence of voting problems in Florida that included the disenfranchisement of many black and non-English speaking voters.

In response to the events of Sept. 11, the commission established a special hotline to handle complaints from Arab-Americans, Muslims and others about harassment issues. She also taped a public service appointment against racism.

Berry was appointed in 1980 to the civil rights commission by President Jimmy Carter. She was removed from the commission by President Ronald Reagan, but sued and was reinstated. She is now serving her second term as the commission’s chairwoman.

She is currently in a dispute with the Bush administration over whether the term of a current commission member has expired. The dispute centers over her refusal to seat Bush’s nominee to the commission.

The recipient of numerous honorary doctoral degrees and awards, author of numerous books and a frequent guest on television shows, Berry is well known as an advocate for civil rights.

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