Civil Rights Leader Connie Rice to Speak at 2003 Commencement
Civil rights leader, community activist, and attorney Connie Rice will be the featured speaker at Occidental College’s 121st commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 18 in the Remsen Bird Hillside Theater on the Occidental campus.
Rice, long-time attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and current co-director of the Los Angeles-based Advancement Project, will be presented with an honorary degree at the 10 a.m. ceremony for the more than 400 members of the graduating class of 2003.
For more than a decade, Rice has been one of Southern California’s most effective civil rights advocates, successfully litigating police misconduct cases, race and sex discrimination issues, and inequitable public policy in transportation, probation, and public housing. She filed a landmark case on behalf of low-income bus riders in Los Angeles that resulted in a court order mandating the expenditure of more than $2 billion to improve bus service. She also launched a coalition lawsuit in 1999 that won $750 million for new school construction in Los Angeles – money previously slated for less crowded, more affluent suburban school districts.
Described as “one of LA’s smartest and most charismatic lawyers” (London Guardian), Rice has been equally busy outside the courtroom. She served as counsel to the Watts gang truce, as president of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s governing board, and currently serves on a city committee charged with overseeing how $3.55 billion in school construction bonds is spent.
Her most recent effort is The Advancement Project, a public policy and legal action group she co-founded that supports other organizations working to solve community problems and address racial, economic and other barriers to equal opportunity.
A 1978 Harvard graduate, Rice earned her law degree from the New York University School of Law in 1984.