Mary Frances Berry to keynote 2016 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Observance and Sunrise Celebration

For Immediate Release
Fri, 10/23/2015


John L. Amundsen

Program Officer, Outreach and Communications

ALA Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services

(312) 280-2140

CHICAGO – Acclaimed civil rights activist and academic Dr. Mary Frances Berry will keynote the 2016 Dr. Luther King, Jr. Holiday Observance and Sunrise Celebration during the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting and Exhibits in Boston. The 2016 Celebration will be held from 6:30 - 7:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 12 in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

Since her days as a student at Howard University, Berry has been one of the most prominent activists in the cause of civil rights, gender equality and social justice in the United States. Her publications include such subjects as the history of constitutional racism in America and child care and women’s rights. "Power in Words: The Stories behind Barack Obama’s Speeches, from the State House to the White House" (Beacon Press, 2010) offers insight and historical context of President Obama’s most memorable speeches. Her most recent book, "We Are We Say We Are: A Black Family’s Search for Home across the Atlantic World" (Oxford University Press, 2014) offers a new angle of vision for looking at racial identity, demography and migration as themes of our national history. Her forthcoming book "Five Dollars and a Pork Chop Sandwich: Vote Buying and the Corruption of Democracy" (Beacon Press, February 2016) explains that some campaign voter turnout activities are just another form of voter suppression.

Berry is a fellow of the Society of American Historians and the National Academy of Public Administration. In 2014 she was named a distinguished fellow of the American Society for Legal History the highest honor the Society can award. Since 1988, she has been the Geraldine R. Segal professor of American social thought, history, law and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Her participation is generously made possible by Beacon Press.

The 2015 Sunrise Celebration will bring together leaders from across the association, including 2015-16 ALA President Sari Feldman and ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels. Featured readings will include selected passages from the works of Dr. King.

Coffee and tea will be served. Attendance is open to all attendees of the 2016 ALA Midwinter Meeting. For more information, please visit

The ALA Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT) is a unit within the American Library Association. It works to make ALA more democratic and to establish progressive priorities not only for the association, but also for the entire profession. Concern for human and economic rights was an important element in the founding of SRRT and remains an urgent concern today. SRRT believes that libraries and librarians must recognize and help solve social problems and inequities in order to carry out their mandate to work for the common good and bolster democracy. SRRT’s main website is hosted

The Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA), an affiliate of the American Library Association, serves as an advocate for the development, promotion and improvement of library services and resources to the nation's African-American community and provides leadership for the recruitment and professional development of African-American librarians.  To learn more about BCALA, please visit 

Beacon Press is a 162 year old independent nonprofit publisher of books on social change, history, religion, the environment, science and society. Its mission is to promote freedom of speech and thought; religious pluralism, democracy, anti-racism and respect for diversity in all areas of life.  Beacon is partnering with the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. in publishing "The King Legacy," a series of new  editions of previously published King titles as well as new collections of  Dr. King's writings, sermons, lectures, speeches and prayers, each with new introductions by leading scholars.  To learn more about Beacon Press and The King Legacy, please visit or