• VLS to host former Selma, Ala., mayor
    January 12,2010
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    SOUTH ROYALTON — James Perkins, Jr., the first black mayor of Selma, Ala., will lead Vermont Law School's observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day from 12:45 to 2 p.m. Jan. 19, in the Chase Community Center.

    Perkins will speak on "Changing Politics in the South." The event also will include remarks from VLS president and dean Jeff Shields and a presentation by the Black Law Students Association.

    Perkins, a Selma native, was among the first black students to enter Selma's A.G. Parrish High School in 1969 under mandatory desegregation. Shirley Jefferson, VLS associate dean for student affairs and diversity, became Perkins' classmate in 1971 after the school was renamed Selma High School. Perkins and Jefferson became friends and student activists during their high school years.

    "James Perkins paved the way for me, and we were partners in protest," Jefferson said. "He and I were freedom fighters and leaders and we fought for things together in high school, so to have him share his life experiences with us at Vermont Law School is an honor."

    Following a career in information technology, Perkins was elected mayor of Selma in 2000, unseating an incumbent who had held the office since 1965. During Perkins' two terms as mayor from 2000 to 2008, Selma increased jobs, added innovative education and training programs, and adopted a comprehensive environmental cleanup strategy.

    The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.vermontlaw.edu.

    — Staff reports
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