Judy Shepard, whose 21-year-old son Matthew lost his life to anti-gay violence in Colorado in 1998, will speak as part of Coastal Carolina University's "Erase the Hate 2002" event on Wednesday, April 17 at 7:30 p.m. in Wheelwright Auditorium. The event, sponsored by Coastal's Office of Student Activities, is free and open to the public.
Shepard's murder provoked an unprecedented public outcry and focused the nation's attention on the growing epidemic of hate crimes. In the aftermath of their son's death, Judy and her husband Dennis Shepard founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which promotes gay and lesbian equality and works to prevent hate crimes.
Judy Shepard has become a prominent spokesperson for causes which address hate crime issues. She testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 1999; she has appeared in several national television public service campaigns promoting human rights; and she has become actively involved with Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and other programs which promote tolerance.
Proceeds from a fundraising campaign by Coastal students, SAM's Club of Myrtle Beach and Conway Hospital which raised $5,000 for the Matthew Shepard Foundation will be presented to Shepard at the event.
The event will also include a screening of the film "Journey to a Hate Free Millennium," a documentary film about hate crimes in America. In addition to Shepard's story, the film focuses on two other recent American tragedies: the murder of James Byrd, an African-American man killed in Texas, and the events at Columbine High School in Colorado.
For more information, contact Coastal's Office of Student Activities at 349-2303.