Renowned Civil Rights Attorney, John M. Rosenberg to deliver annual Stanley Reed Lecture Sept. 25

The Stanley Reed Pre-Law and Politics Society will host a presentation, “Continuing The Wesleyan Way with Public Service” featuring John M. Rosenberg, a Holocaust survivor and nationally acclaimed attorney. The event is free and open to the public, and will be hosted on Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. at Legacy Owensboro Church (3300 Frederica St.).

“John Rosenberg is an American hero and has, through his many years of commitment to justice, changed not only the United States, but also our world,” said Wesleyan President Barton D. Darrell. “Kentucky Wesleyan College has a rich history of preparing students for careers in law and social justice, so it is quite fitting that Mr. Rosenberg has chosen to share his life experiences with our campus and the Owensboro-Daviess County community. We are so honored to host Mr. Rosenberg for what will be an unforgettable evening.”

John M. Rosenberg is director emeritus of Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Ky., Inc. (Appalred), a legal services program serving low income clients in 37 counties in eastern and south central Kentucky through a network of six area offices. He retired as director in February 2002, after holding this position for more than 31 years from Appalred’s founding in 1970. Under Rosenberg’s direction, Appalred gained a national reputation for its outstanding work in representing low income clients and groups in a wide variety of poverty law areas including family law, consumer matters, housing, health law and disability issues involving Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income matters, environmental law, and coal mine health and safety.

From 1962 to 1970, Mr. Rosenberg served as a trial attorney and section chief in the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice, litigating racial discrimination cases throughout the south. He worked under mentor John Doar as part of the team that prosecuted the murderers of three civil rights workers in the U.S. v. Price case in 1967. “Mississippi Burning,” a 1968 movie, was produced about the case.

Mr. Rosenberg is a past member of the Board of Governors of the Kentucky Bar Association. He is chair of the Senior Lawyers Section and past chair of the Education Law Section and the Public Interest Law Section of the Kentucky Bar Association. He is the civil advisor to the Standing Committee for Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants (SCLAID) of the American Bar Association. He serves on the boards of the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, the Kentucky Equal Justice Center, the Floyd County Community Foundation, and the Floyd County Homeless Shelter. He is a founding board member of the East Kentucky Science Center in Prestonsburg. He is vice chair of the Kentucky Public Advocacy Commission.

Mr. Rosenberg has received a number of awards for his public service work, including the Kutak Dodds Prize from the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, the American Bar Association’s John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award, the Kentucky Bar Association’s Pro Bono Award, the Public Advocacy Commission’s Nelson Mandela Award, and the Muhammad Ali Center’s Kentucky Humanitarian Award.

He has written a number of articles related to his legal services work.      

Mr. Rosenberg received his L.L.B. degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law. He holds an A.B. degree in Chemistry from Duke University. He has received honorary doctorate degrees from The William Mitchell School of Law in St. Paul Minn., Morehead State University and Berea College.

He is of counsel to the Prestonsburg firm of Pillersdorf, Derossett, and Lane.

Mr. Rosenberg served as a navigator and instructor navigator in the United States Air Force from 1954-1957. He was stationed in England for much of that time and was honorably discharged with the rank of captain.

Mr. Rosenberg was born in Magdeburg, Germany, in 1931. His family came to the United States on Feb. 22, 1940, on one of the last ships to leave Holland before the German occupation, and after his father had spent 11 days in the Buchenwald concentration camp. His story is featured in the book, “This is Home Now,” a compilation of experiences of Holocaust survivors in Kentucky, authored by Kentuckian Arwen Donahue.

Stanley Forman Reed (1884-1980), a 1902 graduate of Kentucky Wesleyan College, was a noted attorney who served as United States Solicitor General from 1935-1938 and as an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1938-1957. He was a native of Mason County, Ky.