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Renowned Civil Rights Attorney to Speak at Mount

pettit feature

As the country marks the 50th anniversary of the tragic assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Mount St. Mary’s University students, faculty and staff will reflect on and honor the life of the civil rights leader with an event titled “Voices of Justice: Fifty Years of Reflection” at 7 p.m. on April 11 in Knott Auditorium.

The evening will feature a talk by and discussion with A. Dwight Pettit, a renowned civil rights, constitutional and criminal lawyer and author of "Under Color of Law." Through his book, Pettit, who practices law in Baltimore, provides insight into past and current civil rights issues by telling the story of his family's pursuit of justice in the context of the drive for equal rights for all. In 1958, Pettit’s father initiated a lawsuit against Harford County, Maryland’s white school system. Pettit’s family, represented by Thurgood Marshall, won the suit, and Pettit became the first black male to attend Aberdeen High School, graduating in 1963. In 1971, Pettit litigated his first private case by representing his father in an employment discrimination case, Pettit vs. the United States, which is considered to be a landmark decision that set the standard for back pay awards in discrimination cases. Also in 1971, he brought the first suit against Maryland for discrimination in the bar exam. This case resulted in changes in testing practices in multiple states. Pettit will discuss these and other cases as well as current social justice issues in his talk.

Pettit, who co-hosts a weekly news and commentary radio show at 10 a.m. on Friday on WOLB 1010 AM, is sought out for nationally televised news and radio talk shows. He has received numerous awards, including the National Bar Association Hall of Fame Award in 2015 as well as the NAACP Freedom Fighter Award; the NAACP Thurgood Marshall Award and The Greater Urban League Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award, all in 2013.

Presented by the Office of President Timothy E. Trainor, Ph.D., and the Center for Student Diversity, the evening will include time for question and answer discussion.