2022 Clarence Darrow ceremony to highlight efforts to transform our criminal justice system

CHICAGO — With its mission of bringing the spirit of famed attorney and social justice advocate Clarence Darrow to bear on contemporary issues, this year’s Darrow commemoration and symposium will focus on efforts to transform our criminal justice system.

The annual event – now a tradition that stretches more than six decades – will be held on Sunday, March 13, at 10 a.m.at the Darrow Bridge in Jackson Park, behind the Museum of Science & Industry. A wide array of family, friends and others who feel connected to Darrow through their work and committed to social justice causes have been gathering on the anniversary of Darrow’s death to summon his spirit, first by throwing a wreath into the water at the bridge, and then by hosting a discussion on a topic still relevant today that Darrow was passionate about. These issues include civil liberties, racial inequities, unfair labor practices, the rise of populism, the criminal justice and immigration systems. Like last year, there will be no indoor program this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; the indoor programming will restart spring 2023.

Speaking to inmates at the Cook County jail 120 years ago, Clarence Darrow said, “If every man and woman and child in the world had the chance to make a decent, fair, honest living, there would be no jails and no lawyers and no courts.” 

Speakers at this year’s outdoor event will include State Senator Robert Peters, who successfully spearheaded last year’s effort to end cash bail in Illinois, and Bernardine Dohrn, activist and former Northwestern University law professor. Nina Barrett, author of The Leopold and Loeb Files, will read excerpts of Darrow’s talk to the inmates at the jail. After his talk, one prisoner remarked to a guard that the talk was “too radical.”

Event details

Where: The Darrow Bridge is behind the Museum of Science and Industry: Driving south on Lake Shore Drive, pass the light at 57th Drive and turn right at the next light [Science Drive]. You will come almost immediately to Columbia Drive. If you turn left and follow Columbia Drive there is parking near the bridge.

When: Sunday March 13th, 10am. Reminder: daylight savings time begins on the 13th!

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