February 26, 2004

Contact: Laura Heidbreder, Student Union Activities, 864-2431

Mother of hate-crime victim Matthew Shepard to speak at KU awareness event

UPDATE: Elizabeth Birch to speak at KU March 1, replacing ailing Judy Shepard

LAWRENCE Judy Shepard, mother of hate-crime victim Matthew Shepard, will speak at 8 p.m. March 1 in the University of Kansas' Lied Center as the opening event for KU's "Into the Streets Week." Tickets are free and available at the Student Union Activities box office in the Kansas Union.

Into the Streets Week, slated for March 1 to 6, is an annual event, organized by the student-run Center for Community Outreach, which aims to raise student awareness about the need for activism and engagement in public life.

Shepard, whose son was killed in an anti-homosexual hate crime in Wyoming in 1998, is the co-founder, with her husband Dennis, of the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Since its founding in December 1998, Judy Shepard has spoken around the country about the power that individuals have to eliminate hate crimes and make schools and communities safer.

"She has made herself a leader by going public about an issue people try to hide behind," said Laura Heidbreder, vice president of university relations for the Student Union Activities Board. "She represents what 'Into the Streets Week' is all about."

Other events this year will include a voter registration drive in front of Wescoe Hall on the KU campus, a hunger banquet at 6:30 p.m. March 4 at the Ecumenical Christian Ministries, and a Sleepout for Homelessness the night of March 6. Additional event information is available by calling SUA at (785) 864-SHOW.

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