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Release: Jan. 16, 2003

Harvard law professor to discuss racial epithet in UI lecture

Harvard University law professor and author Randall Kennedy will discuss the history of America’s most inflammatory racial epithet in his lecture, “Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word,” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23 in the Main Lounge of the Iowa Memorial Union.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Kennedy will sign copies of his 2002 book “Nigger” in the Sun Room following the lecture.

His appearance is sponsored by the UI Lecture Committee.

Kennedy’s book was hailed by critics last year as a thoughtful and clear-headed look at the word, its history and its affect on American life and culture. When followed through popular culture, the court system, academia, and disparate racial communities, the word nigger (and its relative acceptability) is in constant flux. It has been used to remove judges and inflame juries, as a term of endearment and one of derision, and to ban as well as celebrate certain books.

Kennedy is a graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School, and was a Rhodes Scholar. He served as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. He was awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for Race, Crime and the Law.