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“Hurricane” Carter to speak at UIS

March 22, 2005

SPRINGFIELD - Dr. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the former middleweight contender whose boxing career was ended by a conviction for three murders he did not commit, will speak on “The Fight for Justice” at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 13, in the Studio Theatre, located on the lower level of the Public Affairs Center at the University of Illinois at Springfield. The event is free and open to the public.

Dr. Rubin "Hurricane" Carter

The program is presented by the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project at UIS and co-sponsored by UIS’ Innocence Project Club, Institute for Legal and Policy Studies, Inter-Club Council Board, Speaker’s Award Committee, and Student Activities Committee.

Carter’s visit will be preceded by screenings of the film The Hurricane, starring Denzel Washington, at noon, 6 p.m., and 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 31, in Brookens Auditorium, lower level of Brookens Library at UIS. Washington was nominated for a 2000 Academy Award as Best Actor for his role in this movie. The film is also free and open to the public.

As a young boxer, Carter’s fast and furious style made him a favorite with audiences and earned him the nickname “Hurricane.” He was a contender for the middleweight championship in 1966 when three white patrons of a New Jersey bar were shot to death and he was mistakenly identified as one of the killers. He and an acquaintance were tried and found guilty by an all-white jury. Carter narrowly escaped the electric chair and was given three life sentences.  In 1974, he published The Sixteenth Round, an account of the events that led to his incarceration and a portrait of his life in prison. The book made him a celebrity and inspired Bob Dylan to write the ballad “Hurricane,” which helped bring further media attention to Carter’s case.  On November 7, 1985, Federal District Judge H. Lee Sarokin freed Carter after determining that his conviction was based on an appeal to racial prejudice rather than fact-based evidence.

Since his release, Carter has become a legal crusader and civil rights advocate. Founder of the Canadian group Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted, he also sits on the board of directors of the Southern Center for Human Rights, based in Atlanta, Georgia. In demand as a guest lecturer, he frequently speaks to groups of young people on the importance of staying in school. He has also testified before Congress on the need for preserving federal review of state court convictions, was invited to the White House to meet with President Clinton on issues related to the death penalty in America, has addressed the United Nations General Assembly, and spoke alongside Nelson Mandela at the first World Reconciliation Day in Australia. In 2003, Carter was awarded an honorary doctorate in law from Griffith University in Australia in recognition of his work with innocence projects around the world.

UIS’ Downstate Illinois Innocence Project is housed within the Institute for Legal and Policy Studies. Under its auspices, students in Legal Studies and other degree programs provide research and investigative assistance to individuals who have been arrested, tried, found guilty, and imprisoned for crimes the Project believes they did not commit.

A reception with Carter will precede his public presentation on April 13. Tickets to the reception are $50 per person and advance registration is required. For more information or to make reservations, contact Jeri Fredrick in the Institute for Legal and Policy Studies at 206-7985 or by e-mail at frederick.jeri@uis.edu.



    The University of Illinois at Springfield, one of three U of I campuses, is a small, public liberal arts university that offers 42 degree programs – 21 bachelor’s, 20 master’s, and the Doctorate of Public Administration. UIS has a special mission in public affairs and service and is known for extraordinary internships, a wireless campus, extensive online offerings, and a commitment to teaching.