Arts + Culture

Police commissioner John Mack to give UCLA Bunche Center's Thurgood Marshall Lecture

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John W. Mack, a longtime civil rights leader and vice president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, which oversees and sets policy for the city's police department, will deliver the 2013 Thurgood Marshall lecture at UCLA on Thursday, April 4, a day which also marks the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
 
Mack's work as a civic and civil rights leader spans more than 50 years, in nearly half a dozen states. He is a highly respected advocate for equal opportunities for African Americans and other minorities in education, law enforcement and other areas and a champion of economic empowerment for underrepresented populations. During his long career, he has been a bridge-builder across racial, cultural, economic, gender and religious lines.
 
Mack's lecture, "The March on Washington: 50 Years Later," is part of an annual public lecture series named in honor of late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Each year, the series features a distinguished scholar, legal practitioner or activist who, like Marshall, has had a long and successful record of advocacy and who has made significant contributions to the struggle for civil rights.
 
The event, sponsored by UCLA's Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, will begin with a reception at 5:30 p.m. at UCLA's Covel Commons Terrace, followed by Mack's lecture at 7 p.m. in Covel's Grand Horizon Ballroom (map). Mack will be available for media interviews between 5:30 and 6 p.m.
 
Mack's involvement in civil rights advocacy goes back more than five decades. In 1960, as a leader in the student civil rights movement in Atlanta, he co-founded and became vice chair of the Committee on the Appeal for Human Rights.
 
In 1964, Mack began a 41-year career with the Urban League, and in 1965 he was appointed executive director of the organization's Flint, Mich., branch. In August 1969, he became president of the Los Angeles Urban League and served in that position until his retirement in 2005. During his tenure, the Los Angeles Urban League became one of the most successful nonprofit community organizations in Los Angeles, with an annual budget of $25 million. 
 
In August 2005, Mack was appointed to the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. He held the post of commission president for two consecutive years and then served for two years as vice president. In 2009, he was again elected president and served for two years; in 2011, he was re-elected vice president and currently serves in that position.
 
"We are thrilled this year to honor John Mack as our 24th Thurgood Marshall lecturer," said Darnell Hunt, director of the Bunche Center at UCLA and a professor of sociology. "Mr. Mack has been a leading light in the struggle for civil and human rights for more than five decades. His lengthy tenure as president of the Los Angeles Urban League began the same year our center was founded and was distinguished by his efforts to address many of the community issues that our center-affiliated faculty members have studied over the years."
 
Mack earned a bachelor of science degree in applied sociology from North Carolina A&T State University in 1958. He holds a master's in social work from Clark Atlanta University.
 
To attend the free event, the public should R.S.V.P. by emailing atucker@bunche.ucla.edu or calling 310-825-4023.
 
The Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, established in 1969, is ranked among the nation's top academic research centers in African American studies. The center conducts and sponsors multidisciplinary research on the African American experience, supports the bachelor's and master's degree programs in Afro-American studies, facilitates scholarly activities for faculty and students, administers undergraduate scholarship programs for students majoring in Afro-American studies, and sponsors community service programming.
 
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