On Wednesday, May 6, at 6:30 p.m., the Indiana University Northwest Center for Regional Excellence, in cooperation with the Merrillville High School group STAND (Socially Together and Naturally Diverse), will host a special free presentation by Judy Shepard, the mother of slain University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard and founder of The Matthew Shepard Foundation. The program will be held in Savannah Auditorium, located at the southeast corner of the main campus parking lot at 33rd Avenue and Broadway. Refreshments will be served beginning at 6 p.m.
Matthew Shepard was brutally beaten by two men in October 1998 in a rural area near Laramie, Wyo., in what appeared to be a hate crime motivated at least in part by Shepard’s sexual orientation. The case drew international attention and resulted in a push for hate-crime legislation across the country. A critically acclaimed play and subsequent HBO film, “The Laramie Project,” focused on Matthew’s death and the investigation and prosecution of those responsible.
After her son’s death, Judy Shepard stepped to the forefront of the movement to prevent hate crimes and gain equal rights for gay and lesbian citizens, and she remains active in those efforts today. She and husband Dennis Shepard created The Matthew Shepard Foundation to help carry on their son’s legacy of activism and fighting for just causes. Judy has testified before Congress, appeared in public service announcements, and spoken at schools and in communities about how everyone can contribute toward creating a society where all are safe from violence, intimidation and discrimination regardless of religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
“I feel Matthew with me every day, or I would not be able to do this,” Judy Shepard has said. “We just hope we’re doing what he would want us to do. We realize that we must use the voice his death has given us. I realize that what I can try and accomplish is to make people aware. We get so complacent in our lives that we forget not everyone is safe, and frequently it is our children who aren’t safe.”
Judy Shepard’s presentation at IU Northwest, “The Legacy of Matthew Shepard,” will include a short film and a question-and-answer session. She has spoken to more than one million people around the country about hate crimes, their devastating effect on the victims’ families, and what everyone can do to create a safer society for everyone. The Northwest Indiana community is invited to attend this very special free program at IU Northwest.
The Center for Regional Excellence (CRE) at IU Northwest facilitates outreach, engagement and collaboration between the university and the community. STAND is a club at MHS that promotes an appreciation for diversity through community service work, and that has been active in developing diversity education programs and mentoring students. IU Northwest and the CRE are pleased to partner with STAND to present this important program to the community.
For more information about the May 6 event with Judy Shepard at IU Northwest, contact the CRE at (219) 980-6978, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about The Matthew Shepard Foundation, visit the Web at http://www.matthewshepard.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Our_Story_Main_Page