Topeka, Kan. – Barry Grissom, former U.S. Attorney for Kansas, will give the annual Oliver L. Brown Visiting Scholar for Diversity Studies lecture. Grissom’s topic is “Our Continuing Obligation for Civil Rights.” The lecture is Tuesday, Oct. 9, from 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., in the Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center on the Washburn University campus. This event is free and open to the public.
The Oliver L. Brown Visiting Scholar for Diversity Studies lecture is a partnership between the Washburn University College of Arts and Sciences and The Brown Foundation. Established in October of 1988, The Brown Foundation grew out of a cooperative effort between the family of the late Oliver Brown and local community leaders. The concept was to create an entity that would serve not simply as a commemorative organization, but as a crucible for public discourse around the ongoing impact and significance of Brown v. Board of Education. This lecture series began in 1999 in that spirit, to continue the conversation about civil rights and diverstiy.
About Barry Grissom
Grissom earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas in 1977 and his law degree from the Oklahoma City University School of Law in 1981. Grissom established a private practice in 1983, where he specialized in employment discrimination.
President Obama nominated Grissom as the U.S. attorney for the district of Kansas and the Senate unanimously confirmed him in August 2010. Grissom served as the U.S. attorney for Kansas until April 2016. During his tenure, Grissom served as one of 15 U.S. attorneys on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee – a group that advises the Attorney General on matters of administration and policy. Grissom also served on the Brennan Center at New York University Law School’s Blue Ribbon Panel focused on redefining federal prosecution priorities. This Blue Ribbon Panel published the Federal Prosecution for the 21st Century report in 2014.
As U.S. attorney for Kansas, Grissom made civil rights enforcement and community outreach top priorities. Among other accomplishments, he:
- Founded the Kansas Civil Rights Symposium, bringing law enforcement officers and civil rights advocates together from across Kansas annually.
- Founded the district’s first human trafficking working group.
- Established the district’s first criminal prosecutor position assigned to carry out the Justice Department’s Smart on Crime Initiative. Objectives of the initiative included reducing penalties for low-level, non-violent drug offenders, as well as pursuing new and innovative ways to promote public safety.
- Directed the district’s Project Safe Neighborhood program, targeting federal prosecution of felons who unlawfully possessed firearms.
- Oversaw the district’s Project Safe Childhood program, targeting child sex offenders for long federal prison sentences.
Grissom continues to speak on criminal justice reform. Most recently, he lobbied members of Congress on federal sentencing reform with the Drug Policy Alliance. He also lobbies for the Drug Policy Alliance in efforts to reform marijuana laws.
Editor’s note: Barry Grissom is willing to meet with members of the media prior to or immediately after his lecture for questions.