Fish-Harnack Lecture: Civil Liberties Advocate To Discuss Upholding America’s Promise

Farhana Khera has been a strong presence in advocating to ensure civil liberties for Americans of all religious and cultural backgrounds. At the frontlines in fights against religious and racial profiling in the face of the Patriot Act, Khera has represented the interests of oppressed communities on the national stage, ensuring their voices are heard.

Farhana Khera
Farhana Khera, president and executive director, Muslim Advocates

Khera, president and executive director of Muslim Advocates, will deliver the 2017 Mildred Fish-Harnack Human Rights and Democracy Lecture. Her lecture, “Upholding America’s Promise for All,” will begin at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, October 17, at the University of Wisconsin Law School in Room 2260.

Sponsored by the UW–Madison Human Rights Program, the International Division, and the Global Legal Studies Center, this event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow the lecture.

Before joining Muslim Advocates in 2005, Khera was Counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Property Rights. In the Senate, she worked for six years directly for Senator Russell D. Feingold (D-WI), the chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee. Khera focused substantially on the Patriot Act, racial and religious profiling, and other civil liberties issues raised by the government’s anti-terrorism policies after September 11, 2001. She was also the senator’s lead staff member developing anti-racial profiling legislation and organizing subcommittee hearings on racial profiling. Khera wrote the first drafts of the End Racial Profiling Act and organized the first ever Congressional hearing on racial profiling.

Prior to her service with the Senate Judiciary Committee, Khera was an associate with Hogan & Hartson, specializing in commercial and administrative litigation. She also worked with Ross, Dixon & Masback, serving as the lead associate on several pro bono employment discrimination cases, which resulted in the firm being honored with the Outstanding Achievement Award by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.

Khera has been honored by the Auburn Theological Seminary with its Lives of Commitment Award, along with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Barbara Friedman. She has also been recognized by Islamica Magazine as one of “10 Young Muslim Visionaries” for leadership, innovative approaches, and “a level of success that bodes well for America.” Because of her leadership in civil rights, the White House asked Khera to facilitate the first and only meeting between Muslim community advocates with President Barack Obama.

About the lecture
The Mildred Fish-Harnack Human Rights and Democracy Lecture is named after a Milwaukee native who was a UW–Madison student in the 1920s. While living in Germany, Fish-Harnack assisted in the escape of German Jews and political dissidents. She is the only American civilian executed under the personal instruction of Adolf Hitler, for her resistance to the Nazi regime. This lectureship is designed to promote greater understanding of human rights and democracy, and enrich international studies at UW-Madison. The lecture brings to campus a person who contributes to the cause of human rights through academic scholarship and/or active leadership.