Hate Crime Victim's Mother Speaks At Denison University Convocation
Posted: February 15, 2001
Judy Shepard, mother of a hate-crime beating victim, will speak on "Legacy of Matthew Shepard" at Denison University at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday (Feb. 20) in Swasey Chapel. Matthew was brutally attacked because he was gay.
Determined to use her grief over her son's death to make a difference, Shepard has made the prevention of hate crimes the focus of her efforts. She is speaking to audiences nationwide about what they can do to make their schools and communities safer for everyone, regardless of their race, sex, religion or sexual orientation.
In an effort to continue campus dialogue around the theme "A Call to Conscience," which was initiated during the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, the Campus Environment Team, along with the Office of Religious Life, is coordinating a follow-up to Shepard's visit. Set for 11:30 a.m. on Thursday (Feb. 22) in the Curtis West Veggie Room, the discussion will follow a 30-minute extract from the MTV film "Anatomy of a Hate Crime: The Matthew Shepard Story." Following the viewing, students, faculty, staff, and members of the community will have the opportunity to engage in some self-reflection before being invited to participate in a number of small group conversations.
"I feel Matthew with me every day or I would not be able to do this," Shepard says. "We realize we must use the voice Matthew's death has given us. I realize that what I can try and accomplish is to make people aware. We get so complacent in our lives that we forget not everyone is safe and, frequently, it is our children who aren't safe."
Shepard has testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, delivering a powerful message to those who oppose hate crimes laws. "I can assure opponents of this legislation firsthand, it was not words or thoughts, but violent actions that killed my son," she said.
She also has appeared in two Human Rights Campaign public service television spots sponsored by the Matthew Shepard Foundation as well as one sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. Shepard has also written an open letter to school administrators encouraging officials to make schools safer for gay students by promoting tolerance and reprimanding students who harass gay students.
Following her presentation, there will be a reception in the lobby of Swasey.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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