Marshall’s Amicus Curiae Lecture Series event set for Feb. 22


Marshall University’s Amicus Curiae Lecture Series on Constitutional Democracy will feature Judge Richard Gergel presenting on “The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the Igniting of the Modern Civil Rights Movement.”

The event, which is free and open to the public, is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, at the Brad D. Smith Foundation Hall.

Gergel is a judge of the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina. A native South Carolinian, he earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from Duke University and practiced law for 30 years before being confirmed as a federal judge in 2010. He is a prolific writer and the author of the book Unexampled Courage: The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the Awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring, about the blinding of an American soldier in police custody and its profound impact on the civil rights movement.

“Judge Gergel’s excellent book describes how this terrible event led President Harry S. Truman to create the first presidential commission on civil rights and ultimately to desegregate the U.S. military by executive order,” said Patricia Proctor, director of the lecture series. “It also tells how the federal government stepped in to prosecute a heinous crime when local authorities wouldn’t, and the impact of the resulting trial on a South Carolina federal judge who became a champion of civil rights, so the story has many facets, each of which is compelling in its own right.”

The lecture is sponsored by Marshall’s Simon Perry Center for Constitutional Democracy with support from the West Virginia Humanities Council and is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Proctor by e-mail at


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