Supporting Civil Rights Work

A transformative gift from the Kerr family endows civil rights work at UNC School of Law.

Jim and Frances Kerr

A transformative gift from the Kerr family endows civil rights work at UNC School of Law.

While recent events across the country have renewed Americans’ awareness of racial inequality, James Yancey “Jim” Kerr II J.D. ’92, and his wife, Frances King Kerr ’89, discussed aligning their support of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with their desire to see progress on issues of social and racial equity. Jim Kerr’s UNC School of Law classmate Martin H. Brinkley J.D. ’92, dean and William Rand Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law, asked the Kerrs to consider endowing and stabilizing the critical civil rights work Carolina Law has been doing for decades to bring change to people and communities in North Carolina.

“Carolina has always hit the most important problems of our time head-on,” Jim Kerr said. “We study cancer at the medical school. We study the financial crisis at the business school. Why shouldn’t the law school take on challenges that have torn our country and communities apart? I think our legal institutions are our best hope for the future. Wrestling with civil rights issues, thoughtfully and critically, at the law school is part of that great hope.”

The Kerrs have made a $2M commitment to Carolina Law to create The Kerr Family Civil Rights Endowment Fund. The endowment fund will support teaching, research, experiential learning, and student engagement in the area of civil rights. Pervasive discrimination, inequality, and marginalization based on race, color, disability, gender, sex, or national origin will be the focus of the fund going forward.

“The Kerr Family Civil Rights Endowment Fund provides generous support of important work that needs to be done in the law school, at the University and in our nation,” said Brinkley. “Because of their passionate belief in the importance of equitable communities in their home state, I am grateful that Jim and Frances Kerr chose to support our students, faculty and staff with this permanent source of funding.”

The Kerrs’ gift counts toward the Campaign for Carolina, the most ambitious public University fundraising campaign in the Southeast and in University history. The campaign launched in October 2017 with a goal to raise $4.25 billion by December 31, 2022.

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(Photo: Walter C. Kirk III)

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