Actress Marlee Matlin and equal rights advocate Lilly Ledbetter to speak in March
Two dynamic speakers will be presenting at Plachta Auditorium over the next week to discuss how to overcome adversity.
Academy Award-winning actress, television star and deaf advocate Marlee Matlin will speak at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Plachta Auditorium. Matlin, who lost her hearing when she was 18 months old, will share her experiences about overcoming the barriers that stood between her and her goals.
She is best known for her performance in Paramount Pictures’ “Children of a Lesser God,” which won her the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1987. Matlin, who was 21 at the time, made history by becoming the youngest actress to win the award.
Matlin is also known for her work in multiple television shows including “Desperate Housewives,” “The West Wing” and “CSI: New York.” The event is open to the public, and American Sign Language interpreters will be provided.
Civil rights advocate and fair play legislation namesake Lilly Ledbetter will speak at 7 p.m. on March 20.
Ledbetter has been a diligent advocate for civil rights and is known for her book, “Grace and Grit.” She is expected to share stories about rising above adversity and always moving forward.
Ledbetter served as the plaintiff in the historic employment discrimination case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. Ledbetter worked at the Alabama Goodyear Plant for nearly 20 years before finding out she was making thousands less per year than men who were doing the same work as she was.
She later filed a sex discrimination complaint and sued Goodyear for $3 million, which she won in federal court. The U.S. Supreme Court would later overturn the ruling because she did not report it within 180 days of her first pay check.
Ledbetter continued to fight for pay equality, culminating with President Barack Obama signing the Lilly Ledbetter Act in 2009. The act loosened the timeliness requirements for filing a discrimination lawsuit.
Event coordinator Cherie Strachan said she hopes the event will bring a better public awareness of gender inequality.
“Many of my students think many of these gender inequality issues were solved back in the 1960s, and they think everything is fine and equal,” she said. “It shocks many of them when I show them recent cases of pay discrimination for women.”
Strachan said Ledbetter’s situation will be something many people will understand.
“This is the easiest form of discrimination to grasp. Equal work should receive equal pay,” she said. “It is an easy concept for students to grasp and show that there are still inequalities.”
This event cost $10,000 to put on, but all of the money was raised through a fund-raising project involving many academic colleges and programs, she said.
The event is open to the public, and there is a public reception planned following Ledbetter’s presentation.
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