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Rosenberg to speak at graduation ceremony

Dec. 13: John M. Rosenberg, retired director of Appalachian Research and Defense Fund, is the speaker for the Berea College Mid-Year Graduation Ceremony on Sunday.

John Rosenberg

The event in Phelps Stokes Auditorium is scheduled for 3 p.m. Students participating in the service are expected to complete degree requirement at the end of December 2009 or January 2010. In addition to making remarks to the 80 seniors, Rosenberg will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Law degree from Berea College.

Rosenberg was associated with the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky (AppalReD Legal Aid) when it began in 1970 with funding from the Office of Economic Opportunity under President Johnson. After a brief term as a deputy director, Rosenberg became the organization’s director, holding that position for more than 28 years until his retirement in 2002.

The private non-profit law firm is the largest legal aid organization in Kentucky, providing free legal services to low-income residents in a 37-county region in Eastern and South Central Kentucky. AppalReD helps approximately 6,000 clients annually in obtaining the basic necessities of life, i.e., income, adequate food and health care; decent, safe, and sanitary housing, and the protection of assets; guarding the rights of children and the protection of family members from violence and abuse.

Prior to his career at AppalReD Legal Aid, Rosenberg served for eight years as a trial attorney and Section Chief in the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice from 1962-1970, litigating discrimination cases primarily in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

Rosenberg’s areas of representation have been primarily environmental law and representation of the elderly. He has also authored a number of articles with this focus. He has served as a Special Justice for the Kentucky Supreme Court and on advisory boards for both the University of Kentucky Law School and the Appalachian School of Law.

For his work, Rosenberg has received a number of awards as well as honorary degrees from Morehead State University and the William Mitchell College of Law. In 2004, Rosenberg received a Lifetime Achievement Award from American Lawyer Magazine.

Born in Germany, Rosenberg came to the United States with his family in the 1930s and grew up in North Carolina. He is a graduate of Duke University and the University of North Carolina School of Law.

Berea, the South’s first interracial and coeducational college, focuses on learning, labor, and service. Berea charges no tuition, admitting only academically promising students, primarily from Appalachia, who have limited economic resources. All students must work 10 hours weekly, earning money for books, room and board.

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