Racial justice webinar hosted Sept. 17 by Center for Politics and the People

“Racial Justice in the Courts: South and North,” a Zoom webinar sponsored by the Center for Politics and the People, will be held on Constitution Day, Thursday, Sept. 17.

The webinar will begin at 4:30 p.m. Two African American appellate court judges will discuss their comparative experiences in working for justice and human rights. The webinar is free, but registration is required here.

Questions are especially welcomed.

A post-event recording also will be available on YouTube at go.ripon.edu/P1A.

Olly Neal Jr. was the first African-American elected to the Arkansas Circuit Court in 1993 and subsequently appointed to the Arkansas Court of Appeals in 1996. He is now retired.

Maxine Aldridge White was elected to the Milwaukee County Circuit Court in 1992 and was the first African-American appointed to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in 2020.

The two justices will compare experiences as Black judges working for justice and human rights in different parts of the country.

Moderators will be Brian Smith, co-director of the Center for Politics and the People; and Jan Wrede ’64. She majored in biology at Ripon and also holds a degree in entomology from the University of Kansas.

Questions for the panelists will be based on Neal’s recent autobiography Outspoken: The Olly Neal Story, as told to Jan Wrede.

Neal was born in 1941 and raised on a farm in a family of eight children in New Hope, Lee County, Arkansas.

He was the first director of the Lee County Cooperative Clinic in Marianna, Arkansas, and was involved in civil rights sit-ins in Memphis, Tennessee, and economic boycotts in Marianna, Arkansas, before attending the University of Arkansas Law School at Little Rock.

He served in a law practice from 1979 to 1991, becoming Arkansas’ first Black prosecutor and working on Arkansas redistricting lawsuits. He was the first Black elected as a circuit court judge in Arkansas from 1993 to 1996 and was an appellate court judge from 1996 to 2006.

Neal received the Trial Judge of the Year Award from the Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association in 2010.

White was born in 1951 and raised in a family of cotton sharecroppers in rural Mississippi. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Alcorn State University in 1973, her master’s degree from the University of Southern California in 1982 and her law degree from Marquette University Law School in 1985.

Her past positions include executive assistant/area director-manager for the Social Security Administration; assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin; legal advisor/instructor for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Georgia; chief judge of the First Judicial District; and judge in the Milwaukee County Circuit Court..

She currently serves as a judge for the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.

(Photo: Clockwise from top left, Olly Neal Jr., Maxine Aldridge White, Brian Smith, Jan Wrede ’64)


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