Digital archives of convocation speakers are available through the Olin Library.
On Feb. 15, 2001 the Drury University convocation featured Morris Dees, a vigorous and effective civil rights attorney. Dees covered a variety of issues including a new online tolerance initiative.
Dees is a co-founder and chief trial attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which uses education and litigation to combat white supremacist, neo-Nazi and other hate groups, and to fight for the rights of poor crime victims. Dees' record of success is long and impressive, including a multi-million-dollar victory against the leader of the Aryan Nations in 2000.
Dees' visit to Drury was unfortunately well-timed. In the weeks before, Springfield's Jewish cemetery was vandalized, some headstones spray-painted with anti-semitic symbols. In a spontaneous response, members of several Springfield churches arrived to help clean the damage.
Image courtesy Southern Poverty Law Center
Sister Helen Prejean, three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee for her work on the abolition of capital punishment in America and author of the best-selling book Dead Man Walking, spoke at Drury on March 1st, 2001. Dead Man Walking was made into a successful movie starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn.
Prejean, an outspoken anti-death penalty activist, champions the cause of death row inmates who are almost exclusively from the lowest socioeconomic classes in the United States. Prejean is committed to thoughtful dialogue surrounding this emotional issue, and founded the "Survive" support group for inmates and the families of their victims.
Prejean's visit continued the rich tradition of intelligent dialogue about important issues that represents the heart and soul of Drury University's Convocation lectures.
In the mid-1990s, Halima Addou, a successful attorney in Algeria and host of an Algerian television talk show, was forced to flee her homeland for asylum in the United States after Islamic Fundamentalists began a campaign of terror against women. Addou tried civil rights cases, especially cases involving women, making her an easy target of the newly powerful fundamentalists. Her story is one of survival and escape, and the ongoing struggle to end Islamic extremism and oppressive militaristic regimes in her native country. She currently tours the United States, lecturing on the horrors she and others experienced under the two forces - violence that oftentimes resulted in the deaths of women.