Judge William Haynes Jr., chief U.S. District Court judge for the Middle District of Tennessee, will discuss “Social Mobility for Diverse Communities” at the 17th annual Julian Parker Lecture at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 8, in Opus Hall on the downtown Minneapolis campus of the University of St. Thomas.

The lecture, sponsored by the university’s College of Education, Leadership and Counseling, is free but registration is requested. More information and online registration is available here.

U.S. District Court Judge William Haynes

U.S. District Court Judge William Haynes

A 6:30 p.m. reception precedes the lecture; coffee and conversation follow.

The program will include a brief award ceremony for the Minnesota Alliance of Black School Educators; also, Haynes will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree from the university.

Haynes, 64, grew up in Memphis and received his bachelor’s degree in political science and history from St. Thomas in 1970. An African-American at the then mostly white college, Haynes was a popular student government leader who was nominated for the “Mr. Tommy” outstanding senior award.

He graduated from the Vanderbilt University Law School, where he rose to the top of his class and received the Bennett Douglas Bell Award for commitment “to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly” with one’s God.

After serving more than a decade with the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office, he opened a private practice. In 1984 he returned to public service as a U.S. District Court magistrate judge. In 1999, at the recommendation of Vice President Al Gore, President Bill Clinton appointed Haynes as a U.S. District Court judge for Middle Tennessee, the first African-American so chosen. In 2012 he was named chief judge.

The St. Thomas honorary degree citation praises Haynes for his “intellectual honesty, conscientious patience and profound sense of fairness.”

The Julian Parker Lecture Series honors the former longtime chair of the Education Department and dean of the graduate school at Xavier University in New Orleans. Parker was a national leader on urban education and race relations. In the 1960s, he was instrumental in dealing with issues of race and diversity when he worked at St. Thomas in an exchange program between the national historically African-American colleges and private colleges in Minnesota.

Co-sponsors of the Julian Parker Lecture are the St. Thomas Master of Arts in Public Policy and Leadership Program and the Minnesota Alliance of Black School Educators.