Business & Professional
Civil Rights Lessons
Taubman issues challenge grant; creates endowed chair at WSU.
loomfield Hills industrialist and
philanthropist A. Alfred Taubman
has issued a $200,000 challenge
grant to complete the funding required for
the construction of Wayne State University
Law School's Damon J. Keith Center for
Civil Rights in Detroit.
Taubman will match each new gift
received by July 2011 for construction of
the Keith Center, up to a total of $200,000.
This challenge grant brings Taubman's
total contributions to the Keith Center to
$3.2 million — the largest in the law school's
history. In 2006, Taubman committed $1.5
million for construction of the Keith Center
and bequeathed an additional $1.5 million to
provide continued support. As a result of the
revised agreement involving the challenge
grant, the $1.5 million planned gift offi-
cially has been earmarked to establish the
A. Alfred Taubman Endowed Chair in Civil
Rights in the Keith Center.
According to Keith Center Director Peter
Hammer, just $400,000 of the $5.7 mil-
lion budget is still needed to complete the
building, which honors the life and legacy
of Judge Damon J. Keith, LL.M. '56, by car-
rying out his vision for civil rights.
"The creation of the A. Alfred Taubman
Endowed Chair reflects a permanent com-
mitment to ensure
that the Keith
Center will always
benefit from strong
and effective lead-
Detroit native, is
a member of the
A. Alfred Taubman
Board. He is a trust-
ee of the College of Creative Studies in
Detroit, serves on the executive committee
of Detroit Renaissance, chairs the Building
Committee for the Detroit Institute of
Arts and is president of the Detroit Arts
Commission. He, along with industrialist/
philanthropist Max Fisher, was instru-
mental in building the Riverfront Towers
apartments, widely seen as a symbol of
Detroit's resurgence and a magnet for
attracting new residents to the city.
Judge Keith and Al Taubman have been
friends for more than three decades and
have collaborated on several previous
projects, including the Bicentennial of the
"I have been lucky enough to call Judge
Keith my friend for more than 25 years','
Taubman said. "He
is one of the fin-
est individuals I
have ever known;
and the Damon J.
Keith Center for
Civil Rights will be
a fitting tribute to
legal career. I am
Judge Damon Keith
that generations of
Wayne Law students will be strengthened by
his legacy of wisdom, justice and humanity
Keith said, "At the Supreme Court
Building in the nation's capital are the
words 'equal justice under law: Those
words symbolize what lawyers, judges and
all Americans should strive for always;
and they are principles that have guided
my life. I am deeply appreciative to Mr.
Taubman for the way he continues to step
forward to give impetus to this important
project at Wayne Law."
The Keith Center will be housed in a
10,000-square-foot building will feature
an exhibit area, meeting space, confer-
ence space and a 60-person lecture hall.
An exhibit area featuring Judge Keith's
life and work and focusing on civil rights
will serve as a reception area for the law
Wayne Law broke ground on the Keith
Center on May 1. The groundbreaking
was attended by more than 600 guests,
including Judge Damon J. Keith, U.S.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., U.S.
Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, Gov. Jennifer
Granholm, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, Edsel
B. Ford II, A. Alfred Taubman, WSU Board
of Governors members, former WSU
President Jay Noren and Wayne Law Dean
Robert M. Ackerman.
Judge Keith chose to have the ceremony
on May 17 as the date coincided with the
56th anniversary of the historic Brown v.
Board of Education ruling that declared
separate schools for blacks and whites
unconstitutional. The project is expected
to be finished in the fall of 2011.
Visit keithcenter.wayne.edu to
learn more about Judge Keith's
legacy. Contact the Wayne Law
Development and Alumni Relations
Office at (313) 577-3113 or am2674@
wayne.edu for information on how to
give to the Damon J. Keith Center
for Civil Rights.
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