The Social Justice Lecture Series is an initiative jointly sponsored by the African American Studies Program, the Department of Justice Sciences, and the College of Arts & Sciences. The goals of the series include:

  • introducing a variety of social justice topics to the University and Birmingham communities
  • focusing attention on these topics
  • challenging common assumptions about social justice while fostering critical thinking of social justice issues.
Twice yearly, the series will bring to the UAB campus extraordinary men and women who have risked everything in their single-minded pursuit of social justice. In Fall 2014 the focus will be social justice on a global scale, while in Spring 2015 the focus will be local — social justice in the state of Alabama and the city of Birmingham.

Public defender Brandy Alexander at her client's arraignment in Clayton County Court © 2013 HBO Documentary Films.Public defender Brandy Alexander at her client's arraignment in Clayton County Court © 2013 HBO Documentary Films.

Inaugural Lecture — Dawn Porter, October 15, 2014

The UAB Social Justice Lecture Series will host its inaugural lecture October 15, 2014, with attorney and documentary filmmaker Dawn Porter. She will talk about the making of her film Gideon’s Army — a look at three young public defenders in the Deep South struggling against long hours, low pay, and staggering caseloads to challenge the basic assumptions driving the criminal justice system. The film, which premiered on HBO this summer, was an official selection in the prestigious US Documentary Competition at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the prize for “best editing.”

Screening of the documentary will begin at 6 p.m. followed by Porter’s lecture at 7 p.m. at the UAB National Alumni House, 1301 10th Avenue South.

A lawyer-turned-filmmaker, Porter won the 2011 juried Creative Promise Award for Gideon’s Army, while Realscreen named her one of its 2012 Doc Hot Shots 15 emerging directors to watch. Her other projects include Spies of Mississippi for ARTE Germany and PBS, and a documentary about celebrity Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli for the Cooking Channel. She is also an executive producer on The Green, an independent feature premiering on Showtime Networks and starring Cheyenne Jackson and Emmy®-winning actress Julia Ormond.