Judge Damon J. Keith reflects on race in society during upcoming Vanderbilt lecture

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Damon J. Keith will draw on his experience as a long-serving judge on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to discuss the state of race relations in American society during an upcoming Vanderbilt University address.

Keith’s lecture, titled "The Anatomy of a Myth: That We Live in a Color Blind Society," is scheduled for Thursday, April 1, at 6 p.m. in Flynn Auditorium at the Vanderbilt Law School. A reception with Keith precedes the lecture at 5 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public and sponsored by the Chancellor’s Lecture Series at Vanderbilt.

Keith has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit since 1977. Prior to his appointment to the Court of Appeals, he served as chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. As a member of the federal judiciary, Keith has consistently been a defender of the constitutional and civil rights of all people through notable rulings on cases concerning school desegregation, sex discrimination and affirmative action.

Keith is most cited for his opinion in United States v. Sinclair (1971), commonly referred to as The Keith Decision. In Sinclair, Keith, sitting on the district court, found that then-President Richard Nixon and then-Attorney General John Mitchell could not engage in warrantless wiretap surveillance of three individuals suspected of conspiring to destroy government property because the surveillance was in violation of the Fourth Amendment. This decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit and unanimously upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Keith is a graduate of West Virginia State College (B.A. 1943), Howard Law School (J.D. 1949), where he was elected chief justice of the Court of Peers, and Wayne State University (L.L.M. 1956). He has received numerous awards and honors, including 38 honorary degrees from various colleges and universities; the Spingam Medal, the NAACP’s highest honor; the American Bar Association’s 1997 Thurgood Marshall Award; the Distinguished Public Service Award for the National Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith; and the American Bar Association’s 2001 Spirit of Excellence Award.

Parking for the event is available in the Wesley Place Garage at the corner of 21st Avenue South and Scarritt Place or in the Terrace Place Garage at the corner of 21st Avenue South and Terrace Place.

Keith’s appearance marks the final lecture of the 2003-04 Chancellor’s Lecture Series. The annual series serves to bring to Vanderbilt and the wider Nashville community those intellectuals who are shaping the world today.

For more information about the Chancellor’s Lecture Series, visit www.vanderbilt.edu/chancellor/cls. For more news about Vanderbilt, visit www.vanderbilt.edu/News.

Media contact: Kara Furlong, (615) 322-NEWS

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