Changing the Narrative for a More Perfect Union

Speakers discuss the state of civil rights at Colorado Law lecture

For part of its Colorado Law Talks lecture series, University of Colorado Law School hosted a session Wednesday evening titled “Reviving America’s Human Rights Movement.” Denver County Court Judge Gary Jackson delivered opening remarks before the event’s keynote speaker, University of Colorado Law School associate professor Anna Spain Bradley, took the podium. Each spoke about the U.S.’s history of oppression, and Bradley delivered a message about the current state of human rights in light of current events such as the possibility of a citizenship question on the 2020 census and separation of undocumented immigrant children from their parents: The need to push hard for equal rights is as strong now as ever.

“Everybody wants freedom, and the fight for freedom never ends,” she said. “So where do we go from here?”

Jackson spoke about his family’s historical experiences being black in the U.S., stretching from his great-grandparents’ migration to Colorado from the South to his own involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. He was spurred by events such as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama. Inspired by a college roommate’s father, he changed his major from engineering to political science and after law school, joined the Denver District Attorney’s Office. Jackson also co-founded the Sam Cary Bar Association.

He showed a picture of himself around the time of his law school graduation in the early 1970s when he wore an Afro hairdo.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, I think that this picture basically informs you of what my mindset was,” he said. “The Afro hairdo was a symbol of my activism.” He said he has continued efforts to make sure attorneys of color in Colorado have equal access to opportunities.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the September 10, 2018 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.