Ran­dall L. Kennedy, a leading scholar on race issues and the Michael R. Klein Pro­fessor of Law at Har­vard Law School, will deliver the North­eastern School of Law’s com­mence­ment address on May 23 at Matthews Arena.

North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Provost Stephen W. Director and Law School Dean Jeremy Paul will pre­side over the cer­e­mony, which will honor more than 200 grad­u­ating stu­dents in the com­pany of their friends and families.

When Dean Paul asked me about my interest in giving the com­mence­ment address I told him I would be hon­ored to do it,” Kennedy said. “This is a huge day not only for the stu­dents who are grad­u­ating but also for the people who have sup­ported them. And I feel a deep sense of respon­si­bility and honor in crafting an address for all of them.”

Kennedy joined the Har­vard Law School fac­ulty in 1984 and teaches courses in con­tracts, crim­inal law, and the reg­u­la­tion of race rela­tions. He is not only a leading com­menter on issues of race and crime but also inter­ra­cial mar­riage, inter­ra­cial adop­tion, con­sti­tu­tional law, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Pro­fessor Kennedy is the rare scholar whose work speaks pow­er­fully to a gen­eral audi­ence, while com­manding wide and deep respect throughout the legal academy,” Paul said. “He has earned admi­ra­tion by taking a fear­less approach to some of the most chal­lenging issues of our day, par­tic­u­larly those involving race and inti­mate family relations.”

Prior to his career in acad­emia, Kennedy served as a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Jus­tice Thur­good Mar­shall, the court’s first African-​​American jus­tice, from 1983 to 1984.

Kennedy was ele­vated to national promi­nence in 1997 with the pub­li­ca­tion of his first book Race, Crime, and the Law. In the book, he skill­fully explores how the African-​​American com­mu­nity suf­fers not only from dis­crim­i­na­tory prac­tices within the crim­inal jus­tice system but also from under enforce­ment that leads to a higher rate of crime being com­mitted against African-​​Americans.

The book won the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Jus­tice and Human Rights book award in 1998. The award is pre­sented annu­ally to a book that devot­edly reflects Kennedy’s pas­sion to help the poor and pow­er­less and assure a fair chance for all young people.

Kennedy was born in South Car­olina. He received a bach­elor of arts from Princeton Uni­ver­sity in 1977, was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford Uni­ver­sity from 1977 to 1979, and earned his juris doctor from Yale Law School in 1982.

Kennedy joins a group of scholars, advo­cates, and thought leaders who have addressed past North­eastern law school grad­u­ates, including Jacque­line A. Berrien, chair of the U.S. Equal Employ­ment Oppor­tu­nity Com­mis­sion; U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy; Stephen Breyer, asso­ciate jus­tice of the Supreme Court; and civil rights leader Julius Chambers.