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Clarence Darrow Symposium in Chicago on March 13
2019-03-13

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CHICAGO—The annual Chicago tradition marking the anniversary of the death of famed Chicago attorney Clarence Darrow will take place Wed., March 13—and will mark the 95th anniversary of the Leopold-Loeb murder case, which raised profound and disturbing questions about social class, criminal psychology, morality, justice, and mercy that are still relevant and thought-provoking today.

Darrow successfully defended Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb from a possible death sentence after they confessed to the brutal murder of 14-year-old Bobby Franks in the spring of 1924.

This year's Darrow symposium will, for the first time, be celebrated in a two-part format, beginning as usual Wednesday morning at the Clarence Darrow Bridge in Hyde Park at 10 a.m. with a flower-tossing ceremony to commemorate Darrow, including remarks and a dramatic reading. The annual Symposium on topics relevant to Darrow's life and work will be held Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. at the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton St., where author Nina Barrett will give a talk based on her recently published book The Leopold and Loeb Files: An Intimate Look at One of America's Most Infamous Crimes.

Barrett's talk will explore Darrow's role in defending Leopold and Loeb.

Both events are sponsored by The Clarence Darrow Commemorative Committee, whose mission is to honor and remember the life, work, values, and philosophy of famed Chicago lawyer Clarence Darrow ( 1857-1938 ). Particular emphasis is placed upon Darrow's devotion to the American ideal of the universal application of the rule of law for the protection of all persons and causes, no matter how unpopular.

For many decades the Committee has gathered admirers, academicians, judges, lawyers, advocates, and fans on the anniversary of his death to summon his spirit by throwing a wreath into the water at the bridge in his beloved Jackson Park, where he once, as a bet, said his spirit would return if it turned out that communication was possible from the afterworld. To ensure that his spirit does, in fact, return, the Committee then organizes a Symposium to discuss a topic that would have been dear to Darrow's heart.

Here is further information about both events:

—The short commemoration with flower-tossing, brief remarks, and dramatic reading of Darrow begins at 10 a.m. just east of the Clarence Darrow Bridge in Jackson Park. ( The bridge is under construction. ) The Darrow Bridge is behind the Museum of Science and Industry: Driving south on Lake Shore Drive, pass the light at 57th Drive and turn right at the next light [Science Drive]. You will come almost immediately to Columbia Drive. If you turn left and follow Columbia Drive there is parking near the bridge. This event is free and welcome to the public and flowers are provided for participation in the tossing ceremony.

—6-7:15 p.m.: Symposium at the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton St.: This event is free and open to the public. Copies of The Leopold and Loeb Files will be available for purchase and signing. Register using this online form by 3 pm Wed., March 13. Doors open half an hour before the program begins, with first-come, first-served seating for registered attendees. If space permits, walk-ins will be admitted 10 minutes before the event starts.

People with disabilities and other accessibility concerns can request to be seated first. To reserve an access-friendly space in the room, first register using the link above, then email publicprograms@newberry.org at least 48 hours before the event. Seats arranged in this way will be held until 10 minutes before the event starts.

For more information, see www.facebook.com/DarrowBridgeorg-207085072651434/ or DarrowBridge.org, or call 773-387-2394.


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