Professor Sherrilyn Ifill delivered the University of Maryland School of Law’s annual Thurgood Marshall Lecture, entitled "On the Courthouse Lawn: Lawyers, Judges and Lynching in Maryland," on April 10, 2007 from 12:15-2 p.m. in the law school’s Ceremonial Courtroom.
Nearly 5,000 black Americans were lynched between 1890 and 1960. In her new book, On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the Twenty-First Century, Professor Ifill traces the ongoing impact of these crimes. While the lynchings were devastating, Professor Ifill argues that the little-known contemporary consequences, such as the marginalization of political and economic development for blacks, are equally pernicious. Her book traces the lingering effects of two lynchings in Maryland to illustrate how ubiquitous this history is, and issues a clarion call for the many American communities with histories of racial violence to be proactive in facing this legacy.
Professor Ifill's book has attracted attention throughout Maryland and beyond. In addition to her appearance on WYPR's Marc Steiner Show, and her Feb. 20 appearance on WNYC's "Brian Lehrer Show", she and her book have been profiled by Tom Shaw on Maryland Morning, in the Baltimore City Paper and the Baltimore Sun. Professor Ifill also recently spoke about "Confronting The Legacy of Lynching" at Center Stage Theater on Thursday, February 22, after the 8 p.m. performance of the play Trouble in Mind. The post-show "AfterThoughts" discussion examined the use of restorative justice practices to help communities address the complex and painful history of lynching.
Professor Ifill is nationally recognized as a scholar and advocate in the areas of civil rights, voting rights, judicial diversity and judicial decision-making. During her tenure at the law school Professor Ifill has continued to litigate and consult on cases on behalf of low-income and minority communities. She has also served as of counsel to the Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos in its class action representation of plaintiffs suing tobacco companies.
Prior to joining the Faculty in 1993, Professor Ifill served as an Assistant Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. in New York, where she litigated voting rights cases, including Houston Lawyers’ Association v. Texas, in which the Supreme Court held that judicial elections are subject to the provisions of the Voting Rights Act.