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Clarence Darrow Symposium to mark 80 years since Darrow's death March 13
From a press release

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Tuesday, March 13, the Clarence Darrow Commemorative Committee marks two contributions by famed "attorney for the damned" Clarence Darrow: marking the 80th anniversary of the death of Darrow—the question "How does Darrow's work and legacy influence you?" will be answered by three Chicago attorneys active in progressive causes: Catharine O'Daniel, Nabeela Rasheed and Scott A. Schoettes.

Then, Darrow's contribution to the issue of fair housing, and marking the 50th anniversary of Fair Housing policy in the U.S., Marisa Novara, Vice President, Metropolitan Planning Council will discuss the effectiveness of the Fair Housing Law after half a century, and actor Keith Butler will give a dramatic reading of Darrow's argument on behalf of Ossian Sweet, the Michigan physician noted for his armed self-defense of his newly purchased home in a white neighborhood in 1925, against a mob trying to force him out.

The program is part of a commemoration and symposium held annually on the date of Darrow's death, beginning at the Clarence Darrow 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.

For more than five decades, first friends and relatives, and now descendants and fans, have been gathering on the anniversary of his death to summon his spirit, first by throwing a wreath into the water at the bridge, and then by adjourning to a room in the Museum of Science & Industry to discuss a topic still relevant today that Darrow was passionate about.

The three attorneys who will explore Darrow's influence on their own careers are:

Catharine O'Daniel, a criminal defense and appellate lawyer in Chicago and the owner of her own law firm. She has tried numerous criminal cases to verdict in state and federal courts across the U.S. In 2015, Catharine was awarded the NAACP Thurgood Marshall award for her work in achieving an acquittal before a jury in the case of a man charged with first-degree murder who waited six years in the Cook County Jail for his day in court.

Nabeela Rasheed, is a Pakistani, British, American, Muslim, Queer, lawyer, biochemist, and activist. Dr. Rasheed retrained as a lawyer in Chicago, and recently left private practice to become Section Head of Intellectual Property at AbbVie Inc.

Scott A. Schoettes, is Counsel and HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal, where he litigates impact cases involving HIV discrimination, HIV criminalization, and access to care. Schoettes has twice co-authored amicus briefs for the U.S. Supreme Court, assisted in dismantling the HIV travel and immigration ban, and works on legislative reform of laws criminalizing conduct based on HIV status.

Marisa Novara, who will discuss the current effectiveness of the 1968 Fair Housing Law, directs the Metropolitan Planning Council's housing and community development work, and manages technical assistance and support to communities facing development challenges related to housing, transportation, transit-oriented development and economic development. She designed and manages the multi-year Cost of Segregation project.

Excerpts from Darrow's dramatic argument on behalf of Ossian Sweet will be performed by Keith Butler, who starred as Kevin in the made-for-TV 3-part series Kevin's Room, about a counselor putting together a support group for Black gay men. He has made appearances in other TV shows including How I Met Your Mother and movies including Dreamgirls.

The day begins with a traditional brief ceremony and wreath-tossing near the Darrow Bridge in Jackson Park at 10 a.m. Since the actual bridge is closed due to construction, the ceremony will be just to the east of the Darrow tribute marker.

After the ritual outdoor wreath-tossing, guests will move inside to the Museum of Science and Industry's Rosenwald Room for light refreshments and the presentations at 10:45 a.m. by the attorneys, the discussion of the Fair Housing Law, and the dramatization of Darrow's speech.


Wreath-tossing and remarks are 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.

The Symposium begins at 10:45 a.m. in the Museum of Science and Industry: The Rosenwald Room. Beverages and rolls will be served. NEW THIS YEAR: There is NO entrance to the Museum from the east side; we all must enter through the MAIN ENTRANCE ENTRY HALL—guests will need to check in with the officer at the base of the escalators. If you are not able to walk far, we suggest you skip the outdoor ceremony and just join us inside at the symposium. All events free.

For more information, see

or or call 773-387-2394 .

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