The Thirtieth Annual Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander Commemorative Conference

The Segregated Second Amendment: Tracing the Racial Implications of America's Gun Debate 

The Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander Conference is a celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Alexander, a true American pioneer. Dr. Alexander not only shattered glass ceilings for women and minorities, but also empowered those after her. In the spirit of Dr. Alexander, the annual conference continues her legacy by engaging with pertinent legal issues in hopes of getting closer to solutions, providing professional development opportunities for students, and giving back to the Philadelphia community. 

This year’s conference will explore the evolving world of gun rights and control along with the racialization of gun politics. With today's increased gun violence, a proactive and adaptive approach is needed to ensure public safety while maintaining the integrity of constitutionally-protected individual rights. This conference will highlight the shift from the narrow interpretation of the Second Amendment to derail the efforts of the Black Panther Party, to its later expansion in enhancing individual rights through NRA lobbying. This stark contrast is most pronounced when comparing California’s state gun regulations under the Reagan administration to the Court's decision in D.C. v. Heller.

The day portion of the conference is scheduled for Saturday February 10, 2018 in Penn Law's Silverman Hall.

Registration begins at 9:45 AM

10:30 AM Judicial Panel: The Honorable Theodore McKee (Third Circuit Court of Appeals), the Honorable C. Darnell Jones (United State District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania), and the Honorable Paula Dow (Superior Court of Burlington County, New Jersey; former New Jersey Attorney General) will serve on the Judicial Panel. 

Lunch will be provided during the day portion of the conference.

1:30 PM Policy and Practice Panel: Policy experts and practitioners Nicholas Johnson, Bob Cottrol, Philadelphia Solicitor General Sozi Tulante, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Gera Peoples (Southern District of Florida) will serve on the Policy and Practice Panel. 

 3:00 PM Career Fair:  Our esteemed conference sponsors will meet with students, including: 

Ballard Spahr LLP

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilto

Cooley LLP

Covington & Burling LLP

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP

Davis Polk & Wardwell

Debevoise & Plimpton

Dechert LLP

Duane Morris LLP

Fenwick & West

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

Hogan Lovells US LLP

Latham & Watkins LLP

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

O'Melveny & Myers LLP

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

Venable LLP

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz

Attire is business professional for the day portion of the conference. 

7:00 PM Evening Gala: There will be a formal gala at the National Constitution Center in downtown Philadelphia. Students, faculty, alumni, and sponsors will join together for an evening of celebration. The program includes remarks from a keynote speaker, BLSA leadership, a presentation of awards, and a special presentation by Northeastern University Distinguished Professor Margaret Burnham (L ’69). Professor Burnham will share brief remarks on Dr. Sadie Alexander's husband, Raymond Pace Alexander, and his historic advocacy in the Mattox case and others from this Second Underground Railroad.  Also joining us are Eastern District of Pennsylvania Assistant U.S. Attorney Gerald Sullivan (L ‘89), whose grandfather, Judge Clare Gerald Fenerty, (L ’21) wrote a landmark opinion in the Mattox case, and members of the Mattox family. 

Attire for the gala is semi-formal to formal.

In addition to tackling the complexities of the historical and contemporary significance of the Second Amendment, this year’s conference supports charitable contributions to establish a named Sadie Alexander scholarship to support an incoming law student, improve the library of a local Philadelphia school, and sponsor students to travel to Accra, Ghana to provide free legal services. This conference also creates a forum to engage with alumni and professionals, reflect on the progress that has been made, and be reminded of the work that needs to be done.

This day portion of the conference has been approved for 4.0 substantive CLE credits for Pennsylvania lawyers. CLE credit may be available in other jurisdictions as well. Attendees seeking CLE credit should bring separate payment in the amount of $160.00 ($80.00 public interest/non-profit attorneys) cash or check made payable to The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania.


History of the Conference


The Raymond Pace and Sadie T.M. Alexander Professorship in Civil Rights was established at Penn Law through an initial gift from the Alexander estate in 1993, and through the involvement of the Alexanders’ daughters, Dr. Rae Alexander-Minter GR’81, who played a pivotal role over the years in leading fundraising efforts, and Mary B. Cannaday. The Chair has been co-funded by the Law School, Penn, and through a grant by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and a gift from the law firm Duane Morris. The Alexander Chair allows Penn Law to hire a Professor whose primary focus would be on the issues of civil rights and civil liberties.

In 1994 Penn BLSA established a Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Committee and each year since then has hosted an annual dinner and conference to support fundraising for the Chair, as well as celebrate the Alexanders’ lives and legacy. In total, more than 350 donors, including individual alumni, students, and faculty, as well as alumni groups, student groups, law firms, and corporations, have contributed to the establishment of the professorship.

For updates on the conference, please check our programs page which will have details and information on the upcoming event.