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USD Hosts Joint Schell and Gunderson Lecture in Honor of Women's History Month

Martha S. Jones headshot Martha S. Jones, Ph.D., J.D., serves as lecture speaker for the joint Schell and Gunderson Lecture March 18.

VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota will host a joint Schell History Lecture and Gunderson Lecture in honor of Women’s History Month March 18 from 4-5 p.m. via Zoom.

The event is sponsored by the USD Department of History with support from the Knudson School of Law, Office for Diversity, Center for Diversity & Community, USD Libraries, and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program.

Martha S. Jones, Ph.D., J.D., Society of Black Alumni presidential professor and professor of history at The Johns Hopkins University, will serve as lecture speaker. She will give the talk “Vanguard: Leading on Voting Rights, Leading the Nation.”

Jones is a legal and cultural historian whose work examines how Black Americans have shaped the story of American democracy. She is the author of “Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All” (2020), which was selected as one of Time's 100 must-read books for 2020.

“I have found Professor Jones's work vital in rethinking the history of citizenship and civil rights in America,” said Sara Lampert, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of History and program coordinator of the Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies program. “Her award-winning book ‘Vanguard’ demonstrates that in order to tell the full history of voting rights in this country we need to center the leadership of Black women. We hope folks will join us to learn more about the ongoing struggle for the vote in America.”

Jones is a public historian, writing for broader audiences at the New York Times, Washington Post, the Atlantic, USA Today, Public Books, Talking Points Memo, Politico, the Chronicle of Higher Education and Time. She is an exhibition curator for “Reframing the Color Line” and “Proclaiming Emancipation” at the William L. Clements Library, and an expert consultant for museum, film and video productions with the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, the Charles Wright Museum of African American History, PBS American Experience, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Netflix and Arte (France).

Jones holds a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and a J.D. from the CUNY School of Law, which bestowed upon her the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa in 2019. Prior to her academic career, she was a public interest litigator in New York City, recognized for her work a Charles H. Revson Fellow on the Future of the City of New York at Columbia University.

“Joining forces between the Schell and Gunderson lectures for this important discussion is exciting,” said USD Knudson School of Law Dean Neil Fulton. “Achieving equitable and open participation in our political process is unfinished business, and this lecture is an important contribution to that discussion. I really encourage everyone to take the time to participate.”

For more information and to register for the event, please visit

The Schell Lecture is sponsored by the USD Department of History and named after Dean Herbert S. Schell (1899-1994), who served the University of South Dakota and the State of South Dakota for more than 40 years. The lecture honors his service by spreading knowledge of history throughout the campus and community to which he was devoted. History department faculty are responsible for choosing a speaker whose research holds interest and importance to the department as well as the public.

The Gunderson Lecture is the law school’s pre-eminent annual lecture and honors the memory of Clark Y. Gunderson, who devoted his life to legal education and public service. In 1934, he began his 30-year tenure as a professor at the USD Knudson School of Law, his alma mater. Gunderson taught at USD until his death in 1964. The lecture is provided through the LSF Trust Fund established by the Gunderson family.


USD's College of Arts & Sciences offers students a top-notch undergraduate liberal arts education in the humanities, social sciences and sciences as well as graduate programs that have earned USD distinction as a research university by the Carnegie Foundation. The college's more than 22,000 alumni include famous journalists, Hollywood screenwriters, novelists, a Nobel Prize winner, South Dakota governors, attorneys, physicians, justices of the state Supreme Court, distinguished university faculty and international humanitarians.


USD’s Knudson School of Law prepares students for leadership in the administration of justice in South Dakota, including in rural areas where the demand is great, and for private practice, public service, business and other law-related endeavors anywhere. Its joint degree program allows students to also earn one of nine master’s degrees within the traditional three-year law curriculum, which includes course tracks in business, commercial, constitutional, criminal, employment, environmental, Indian, real estate and tax law as well as civil litigation and estate planning.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News