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Sept. 9: Judge Bell is keynote speaker at civil rights conference

Thursday, September 11, 2014

FREDERICK, Md.—A renowned Maryland lawyer and judge will give the opening remarks at a conference on contemporary civil rights issues at Hood College.

The Conference on Contemporary Civil Rights Issues, part of Hood's yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, will be Sept. 27 from 9 a.m. to noon in the College's Rosenstock Hall.

Robert M. Bell, former chief judge on the Maryland Court of Appeals and first African American to serve as Maryland's highest ranking judge, will give the keynote address. His talk will be followed by three panel discussions that will run concurrently, each focusing on various topics that are of concern in the civil rights arena.

Bell has a long history of campaigning for civil rights legislation. As a teenager, he was the lead plaintiff in Bell v. Maryland, a case that ultimately helped push the U.S. toward desegregation. During his career, Bell, a Harvard Law School graduate, served as a judge at every level of the Maryland court system. He retired in July 2013 at the age of 70, the state's mandatory retirement age for appellate and circuit court judges.

The first panel, moderated by Roger Reitman, professor of sociology, will focus on homelessness and poverty, religion, race and voting rights and immigration; the second panel, led by Wanda Ruffin, associate professor of psychology, will address women's health, HIV/AIDS, mental health and the physically disabled; and the third panel, moderated by writer and reporter Katherine Heerbrandt, will concentrate on education, bullying LGBT and marriage equality issues.

Registration for the conference is required; participants can register online at

For more information, contact Olivia White, vice president for student life and dean of students, at