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News Posted on November 6, 2013

Sister Simone Campbell '77 Delivers Martin Luther King, Jr. Lecture on Social Justice

Sister Simone Campbell '77Sister Simone Campbell '77, Executive Director of NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby based in Washington, D.C., delivered the Martin Luther King, Jr. Lecture on Social Justice to a packed Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom on October 29. Her talk, titled "We the People: The Challenging Intersection of Law & Politics," touched on income disparity, the Affordable Care Act, and other issues in calling for greater compassion and unity in American politics and social policy.


Following a brief introduction from Dean Kevin R. Johnson, Campbell began by describing how her years as a King Hall student were "an important time in forming not only my attention to justice but also my capacity to argue," she said. "I think that what I learned during my time here has really helped me to be strategic, and that's very important in both law and politics."

Following law school, Campbell founded the Community Law Center in Oakland, practicing as the lead attorney there from 1978 until 1995, when she became general director of Sisters of Social Service.  She went on to serve as executive director of the interfaith advocacy group Jericho before assuming her present role as director of NETWORK in 2004. In 2010, she became a national celebrity as a result of the famous "nuns' letter," which she wrote in support of the Affordable Care Act. The letter, which was signed by representatives of 59 different organizations including the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, drew widespread media attention and prompted controversy that included a Vatican investigation. Since that time she has often been featured in national and international media, including 60 Minutes, The Colbert Report, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. She was also a featured speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Over the course of her lecture, Campbell touched topics including income disparity, minimum wage, immigration reform, and the Affordable Care Act, framing them in terms of the need for Americans to look beyond their immediate self-interests and form a society that is equitable for "the 100 percent."

"What I've come to realize is that this experiment of democracy is in serious jeopardy because we have lost sight of the Constitution," she said. "The fact is that the first three words of the Constitution tell us who we are: ‘We the people.' It's not ‘we the ones who got here first,' it's not ‘we the rich people,' it's not ‘we the educated ones who know better.' It's all of us coming together trying to find a more perfect union. And that is a truth that is lost in our society."