The annual Valerie Gordon Human Rights Lecture celebrates the memory of the late Valerie Gordon ’93, a fierce advocate for human rights in the US and internationally. The lecture brings outstanding lawyers, judges, scholars and advocates who work to advance human rights to deliver a keynote address at the law school. In conjunction with the lecture, the law school’s chapter of the Black Law Students Association sponsors a human rights essay contest for first year law students. The author of the winning essay is given “The Spirit of Valerie Gordon” award, presented at the lecture each spring. 

Save the Date!

The 24th Annual Valerie Gordon Human Rights Lecture
in Collaboration with the 2017 First Pages Lecture
Bryan Stevenson, Founder of the Equal Justice Initiative
and Author of Just Mercy

Tuesday, September 5, 2017, at 7:00 pm
Matthews Arena
Northeastern University

TICKET INFORMATION: The entire Northeastern University community and the general public are cordially invited to this special event. Attendees will be admitted on a first come, first serve basis until Matthews Arena has reached event capacity. No ticket will be required. There will likely be a security check at the entrance to the venue, so attendees are advised to arrive early. Since admission to this event will be controlled by University authorities, ticket information is subject to change, without notice.

Valerie Gordon Human Rights Lecturers 


Morten KjaerumMorten Kjaerum, Director, Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Sweden
April 13, 2016: "Racism and Inclusion: Where is Europe Headed?"
Morten Kjaerum is director of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in Sweden. Morten KjaerumPreviously, he was the first director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) in Vienna from 2008 to 2015. He is also currently chair of the board of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE).

Mr. Kjaerum was the founding drector of the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR), where he served from 1991 until 2008, and developed it from a small organisation to a large internationally recognized institution. He started his career in the non-governmental sector at the Danish Refugee Council.

Mr. Kjaerum was the chairperson of the Network of Directors of EU Agencies in 2014-2015. He was a member (2002-2008) of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and its follow-up rapporteur from 2006 until 2008. He was a member of the EU network of independent experts responsible for monitoring compliance with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (2002-2006). In 2004, he was elected chair of the International Coordinating Committee for National Human Rights Institutions. (view photos)


Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU and Director of its Human Rights Program
March 18, 2015: "Guantánamo and the Legacy of Torture"
Jameel Jaffer, (@JameelJaffer) is deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and director of its Center for Jameel Jaffer Democracy, which houses the organization's work on human rights, national security, free speech, privacy, and technology. Jaffer has for years been at the center of the national and international debate around the detainment center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. In this 22nd Valerie Gordon Memorial Lecture, Jaffer discussed the ways in which the treatment of Guantánamo prisoners is contributing to a legacy that will influence the global image of the US for decades to come. "The 2015 lecture took place in the context of the installation, at Northeastern University, of a traveling multimedia exhibition hosted by the Guantánamo Public Memory Project. " The exhibit was entitled, "Confronting Guántanamo: A Contested Place, A Controversial Past, A Questionable Future.

Photo credit: Alice Ristroph


Penelope "Penny" Andrews, Dean and President, Albany Law School (view photos)


Philp Alston, John Norton Pomerory Professor of Law, New York University School of Law (watch now)


Terry McGovern, Senior Program Officer, Human Right Division, Ford Foundation (view now)


Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Associate Professor of Law and Development and Director of the Program on Human Rights and Justice at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (watch now)


The Honorable Manuel Cepeda, Constitutional Court of Colombia (watch now)


Hauwa Ibrahim, Nigerian Human Rights Lawyer


Gay McDougall, Independent Expert on Minority Issues, United Nations (download the flyer)


Dean Harold Koh, Yale Law School


Professor Carol Anderson, University of Missouri-Columbia


Jaribu Hill , Executive Director and Founder, Mississippi Workers' Center for Human Rights


Professor Gerard Quinn, National Univerity of Ireland, Ireland


Professor Abdullahi An-Na'im, Emory University School of Law


Professor Charles Ogletree Jr, Harvard Law School


Dean Makau Mutua, SUNY-Buffalo School of Law


Professor Adrien Wing, University of Iowa College of Law


Loretta Ross, Executive Director, Center for Human Rights Education


The Honorable Albert Louis Sachs, Constitutional Court of South Africa


Franic Mading Deng, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution


The Honorable Nathaniel Jones, US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit


The Honorable Dessima Williams, UN Ambassador, Grenada


Randall Robinson, Executive Director, TransAfrica

BLSA Human Rights Essay Contest

Each year, in conjunction with the Valerie Gordon Lecture, the law school's chapter of the Black Law Students Association sponsors a human rights essay contest for first-year law students. The essay topic is announced annually by BLSA, and "The Spirit of Valerie Gordon Award" is presented at the Gordon Lecture each spring.