Julian Bond, Michael Cody '61 to Discuss Days Leading Up to King's Assassination

January 24, 2012

The events of early April 1968 in Memphis, Tenn. — culminating in the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. — will be the focus of a talk by two prominent figures in the Civil Rights Movement on Jan. 31 at the University of Virginia School of Law.

Julian Bond

Julian Bond, a civil rights leader and professor at UVA's Corcoran Department of History, will speak alongside Michael Cody '61, whose law firm represented King during the Memphis sanitation workers march. Bond was a founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center and chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The discussion, which will be held at 6 p.m. in Caplin Pavilion, is part of the broader celebration of King's legacy at the University of Virginia.

Bond and Cody will focus on the events of April 3 and 4, which ended with the assassination of King at the Lorraine Motel.

On April 3, the city of Memphis asked a federal court to prevent a scheduled march of supporters of striking sanitation workers, arguing that a previous march in Memphis that included King resulted in violence and looting.

Cody was among King's lawyers who argued before the judge on April 4 that a ban on the march would violate constitutional rights and that that the marchers would promise to adhere to guidelines for peaceful conduct.

Michael Cody
Michael Cody

On the evening of April 4, King was told that the judge was expected to implement an agreement the following morning to allow the march to proceed. As he left his hotel room, however, he was killed.

The discussion with Bond and Cody is free and open to the public. The Law School's Center for the Study of Race and Law and UVA's School of Continuing and Professional Studies are co-sponsoring the event.

Prior to the talk, a candlelight vigil honoring King will be held at 5:30 p.m. in Caplin Pavilion. The vigil, which is sponsored by the Black Law Students Association, will feature a reading of King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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