GALLIPOLIS — The Emancipation Celebration Weekend returns this year to the Gallia County Junior Fairgrounds September 21 and 22 with Kenyon College’s Professor of Legal Studies and Sociology Ric Sheffield serving as its keynote speaker.
Sheffield also serves as the college’s Director of the Law Society Program and the John Adams Summer Scholars Program in Socio-Legal Studies.
Before coming to Kenyon, he served for 10 years as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Ohio. He began his legal career as a civil rights lawyer handling primarily sex and race discrimination cases. He subsequently held the position of chief attorney as head of the state’s consumer protection division.
In addition to research that has focused upon the relationship between law and issues of gender, race, and ethnicity, he has spent several years examining issues involving the African American experience in rural Ohio. He is among a select group of scholars chosen to participate in the Ohio Humanities Council’s Speakers’ Bureau, lecturing widely on issues of race and law as well as rural diversity.
He has published articles and reviews on topics including legal history, the legal profession, and African American social and legal history. His current project includes completion of a manuscript on voting rights cases from Ohio in the late 1860s and early 1870s.
Recently appointed as the Peter M. Rutkoff Distinguished Teaching Professor of American Studies, he serves as chair of that department. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University where he attended college, graduate school in sociology and law school, he spent several years on the Kenyon College senior staff as associate provost before his return full-time to the faculty.
According to the Emancipation Weekend Committee’s website, the Emancipation Proclamation has been celebrated and observed in Gallia County continuously since 1863. The Gallia County Emancipation Day Celebration is reported to be one of the longest continuous running celebrations of the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States.