2024 Coffin Lecture delivered by executive director of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice

On March 6 at 6 pm Dennis D. Parker, the executive director of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ), delivered the 31st annual Judge Frank M. Coffin Lecture on Law and Public Service.

Watch Dennis Parker deliver the 2024 Coffin Lecture:

Before beginning with NCLEJ, Parker served as the director of the Racial Justice Program of the ACLU, as the Chief of the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York Attorney General’s office and, before that, worked on and directed the educational work of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. He began his legal career as a staff attorney in the Criminal Defense Division of the New York Legal Aid Society. He has co-authored or contributed chapters to books and articles dealing with civil rights and has lectured extensively across the country.

Parker’s March 6 talk was entitled Brown vs. Board of Education: How Far Have We Come, How Far Do We Have To Go. He spoke about the legacy of the historic Supreme Court case in the country and as it pertained to his career. He also discussed about how losses in the court system that seek to advance racial and economic justice are still part of progress.

“That difference between law and justice,” Parker said, “is one I struggle with. How do I tell my students you can make a difference in social justice when you have these existing systemic inequalities?”

“The truth is the path to progress has never been linear,” he continued. “We go up and we go down but we keep moving forward… and some of that depends on using litigation as a tool for social change.”