CHICAGO - A group led by attorneys, labor leaders and social justice advocates that has gathered annually for more than 50 years to honor the memory of attorney Clarence Darrow will meet at the Darrow Bridge in Jackson Park Saturday, March 13 at 10 a.m. for its traditional wreath-tossing into the Jackson Park Lagoon. Darrow's ashes were strewn in the Lagoon after his death on March 13, 1938 in Chicago.
The annual event is convened by the Clarence Darrow Commemorative Committee. This year's program will feature a special tribute to the late Leon "Len" Depress, who co-founded the committee in 1958 and remained a leader of the group. Despres (1908-2009) attended last year's event, one of his last public appearances. More than 100 Darrow devotees, civil libertarians, and First Amendment buffs are expected to attend the outdoor wreath-throwing ceremonies behind the Museum of Science and Industry and indoor symposium that follows in the Columbian Room of the adjacent Museum of Science & Industry.
This year's symposium will feature a performance by Gary L. Anderson, a renowned and lauded portrayer of Darrow. Anderson tours year-round as America's only full-time Darrow portrayer. This performance, "Search for Justice," portrays Darrow as legal warrior, engaging the justice system in a presentation that trembles with inescapable timeliness. Anderson is the CEO of The Clarence Darrow Foundation. See: www.clarencedarrowfoundation.
Judy Besser, great granddaugher of Clarence Darrow, will read a letter from Darrow to his daughter, Judy's grandmother, in 1929. This letter illustrates Darrow's great wit and sense of humor little known by the general public.
Loyola Law Professor Anita Weinberg, daughter of Arthur and Lila Weinberg, authors of three books on Darrow and founders of the annual Darrow event, will preside over the indoor program. Tracy Baim, publisher of The Windy City Times and daughter of Joy Darrow, will preside at the bridge.
Darrow, characterized as the "attorney for the damned," who was born in 1857 in Farmdale, Ohio, practiced in Chicago and represented the underdog and vigorously opposed capital punishment. None of his many clients was sentenced to death.
Darrow's death on March 13, 1938, was memorialized throughout the world. His ashes, and later the ashes of his wife Ruby and his son Paul, were scattered from the Darrow Bridge, which was dedicated to his memory by the Chicago Park District in 1957.