The Frances Tarlton “Sissy” Farenthold Endowed Lecture in Peace, Social Justice and Human Rights

To ensure the continuation of Sissy Farenthold’s legacy, this lecture series—in line with Sissy’s own history of exposing and responding to injustices and inequality as both a public servant and global citizen—brings to Austin and Houston internationally renowned scholars and activists to inspire their audiences to think and act creatively to respond to some of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. The lecture is co-presented by, and alternates between, the Rapoport Center at UT-Austin and the Rothko Chapel in Houston.

This series is made possible by many of Sissy’s supporters from across the country (see list on the right) who have donated nearly $150,000 to endow the lecture series and related programming in Sissy’s name. 

Gifts to the endowed lecture may be made by online. On the form, please be sure to direct your donation: (1) Gift Designation: select “Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice”; (2) Donation Comments: add “Farenthold Endowed Lecture.” You may also send a check (payable to “UT Austin Farenthold Endowment”) to: Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, University of Texas School of Law, 727 E. Dean Keeton Street, Austin, Texas 78705.

Dr. Rupa Marya

Dr. Rupa Marya will deliver the tenth annual lecture on Thursday, September 26, 2024 at 6:30pm CDT at the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas. Dr. Marya is Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, where she practices and teaches internal medicine. Her work sits at the nexus of climate, health and racial justice. Dr. Marya founded the Deep Medicine Circle, a women of color-led organization committed to healing the wounds of colonialism through food, medicine, story, restoration and learning. She is also a co-founder of the Do No Harm Coalition, a collective of health workers committed to addressing disease through structural change. Because of her work advancing health equity, Dr. Marya was appointed by Governor Newsom to the Healthy California for All Commission, to advance a model for universal healthcare in California. She has toured twenty-nine countries with her band, Rupa and the April Fishes, whose music was described by the legend Gil Scott-Heron as “Liberation Music.” Together with Raj Patel, she co-authored the bestselling book examining the health impacts of colonialism on bodies, societies and the planet called Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice.

The lecture will be moderated by Dr. Stephen Chao, assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, advisory board member of Physicians for a National Health Program, secretary of the National Council of Asian Pacific Islander Physicians, and vice president of Health Care for All Texas. Please visit the event page for more information.

Kathryn Bond Stockton: “I Was a Queer Child and So Were You: Toward Social and Cultural Transformation”

The ninth annual lecture featured Kathryn Bond Stockton, Distinguished Professor of English, former Associate Vice President for Equity and Diversity, and former inaugural Dean of the School for Cultural & Social Transformation at the University of Utah, where she teaches queer theory, theories of race and racialized gender, and twentieth-century literature and film. Artfully deploying culturally resonant images and powerful poetic language, Stockton’s lecture brilliantly destabilized the deeply ingrained idea that there are two opposite sexes and two opposite genders. After the lecture, Stockton engaged in lively conversation with Jo Hsu, assistant professor of Rhetoric and Writing at the University of Texas at Austin and a prolific writer and speaker on anti-trans politics, chronic illness, race and racism, and narrative strategy. For more information, please view the event page. If you are interested in viewing a recording of the lecture, please contact

Dorothy Roberts: “The Long Struggle to Abolish Reproductive Slavery” (watch now)

The eighth annual lecture was delivered by acclaimed scholar and activist, University of Pennsylvania Professor Dorothy Roberts. Roberts’ lecture powerfully traced Black women’s longstanding struggle against reproductive slavery—from a 1662 Virginia law determining that children born to enslaved mothers held the racial and legal status of their mothers to the family separation by state “child welfare” systems today. She argued that the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision was part of this racialized history of legally coerced childbirth and economically coerced family separation. After the lecture, Roberts and Eleanor Klibanoff, women’s health reporter at the Texas Tribune, discussed the implications of Roberts’ work for Texas. For more information, please view the event page.

Arundhati Roy: “Fascism, Fiction, and Freedom in the Time of the Virus” (watch now)

Arundhati Roy, author of the Man Booker prize-winning The God of Small Things (1997) as well as The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (2017), has devoted the past decades to advocating for justice, equality, and political transformation. She is a preeminent critic of the economic, social, and political inequalities produced by neoliberal globalization. Her work includes leadership on environmental causes, opposition to India’s policies on nuclear weapons, and activism and advocacy against imperialist military interventions. Since 1998, Roy has published twenty nonfiction books, most recently Capitalism: A Ghost Story (2014), My Seditious Heart: Collected Non-Fiction (2019), and Azadi: Freedom. Fascism. Fiction.  (2020). The event, hosted by the Rapoport Center, took place at the LBJ Auditorium on The University of Texas at Austin campus on April 20, 2022. For more information, please view the event page.

Charles M. Blow: “Is this really a racial reckoning?” (watch now)

The 2020 lecture featured Charles M. Blow, an Op-Ed columnist at The New York Times, where his column appears on Mondays and Thursdays. Mr. Blow’s columns tackle hot-button issues such as social justice, racial equality, presidential politics, police violence, gun control, and the Black Lives Matter Movement. Mr. Blow is also a CNN commentator and was a Presidential Visiting Professor at Yale, where he taught a seminar on media and politics. Mr. Blow is the author of the critically acclaimed New York Times best-selling memoir, Fire Shut Up in My Bones. The event, hosted by the Rothko Chapel in Houston, took place virtually on October 1, 2020. Houston’s own Melanie Lawson of ABC 13 moderated a lively Q&A session following the lecture. For more information, please view the event page.

Ruth Wilson Gilmore: “Meanwhile: Making Abolitionist Geographies” (watch now)

The 2019 lecture featured Ruth Wilson Gilmore, a renowned activist and public scholar known for her work on prison abolition.  Gilmore is professor of earth & environmental sciences and American studies, as well as director of the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. In addition to her scholarly work, Professor Gilmore co-founded several grassroots organizations, including the California Prison Moratorium Project, Critical Resistance, and the Central California Environmental Justice Network. The event took place on September 26, 2019 at the University of Texas School of Law. For more information, please view the event page. (Photo © Don Usner.)

Elizabeth Yeampierre: “Climate Justice: The Time is Now, The Place is Here” (watch now)

The 2018 lecture featured Puerto Rican attorney and climate justice activist Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of UPROSE, Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community-based organization, and the co-chair of the Climate Justice Alliance. Yeampierre spoke to a large audience at the Rothko Chapel in Houston about the urgent need for radical, community-led action to counter the mounting forces of climate change, which disproportionately impact poor communities of color. The event took place on November 29, 2018 and featured an interview with Bryan Parras, co-founder of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services and a Dirty Fuels Gulf Organizer with the Sierra Club. For more information, please view the event page.

Ai-jen Poo: “Immigration and the Future of American Families” (watch now)

The 2017 lecture featured labor organizer and activist Ai-jen Poo, Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Co-Director of Caring Across Generations. Her presentation focused on the role of immigrant women in the American care economy, which is increasingly a central part of our entire economy. Her talk began with her personal story, and wove in the stories and solutions of immigrant women and the movement for a more caring economy and democracy. The event took place on October 19, 2017 at the University of Texas School of Law. For more information, please view the event page.

Darren Walker: “Yes Justice, Yes Peace: The Role of Art in Confronting Inequality” (watch now)

The 2016 lecture featured Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation. The event took place on October 3, 2016 at the Rothko Chapel in Houston. The lecture explored the intersection of the arts and human rights, and the need for artists and non-artists alike to engage more fully with the power of artistic expression in the instigation of social change. Mr. Walker was in conversation with Sarah Lewis, professor, curator, and bestselling author. A reception on the plaza followed in celebration of Sissy’s birthday. For more information, please view the event page.


Mark Danner: “Spiraling Down: Human Rights, Endless War” (watch now)

The 2015 lecture featured writer, journalist, and professor Mark Danner. For more information, please view the event page.