Bridgewater College to screen Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine, host presentation by Judy Shepard

Matt Shepard is a Friend of MineBridgewater College will screen Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine at 7 p.m.Tuesday, April 4, in Cole Hall on the college campus.

Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mother, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 6, in Cole Hall.

Eighteen years ago, on the night of Oct. 6, 1998, two men lured Shepard, a gay freshman at the University of Wyoming, from a bar in Laramie, Wyo. He was kidnapped and driven to a field where he was tortured and tethered to a fence and left to die. Never regaining consciousness, Matthew succumbed to the severe injuries from the attack and died on Oct. 12, 1998.

Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine explores the life and tragic death of Shepard through the lens of close friend Michele Josue. Traveling to pivotal locations in Shepard’s life, interviewing other friends and family members and gaining insight into the life and loss of Shepard, Josue tells his story.

Turning tragedy into a personal crusade for justice, Mrs. Shepard established the Matthew Shepard Foundation to carry on his legacy. Her leadership led to passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, signed into law by President Obama in October 2009.

Mrs. Shepard urges her audiences to make all communities safer, regardless of race, sex, religion or gender identity.

Mrs. Shepard is the founding president of the Matthew Shepard Foundation board of directors, and served as its first executive director from 1999 – 2009. She continues as board president and is the author of a 2009 memoir,The Meaning of Matthew, exploring the family’s journey through the prosecution of Matthew’s assailants, the ensuing media coverage and their continuing work to advance civil rights.

Both events are free and open to the public. The film on April 4 is sponsored by Bridgewater College’s Center for Diversity Education and Advocacy and the talk by Mrs. Shepard on April 6 is co-sponsored by the Center for Diversity Education and Advocacy and the Harry W. and Ina Mason Shank Peace Studies Endowment.

Bridgewater College is a private, four-year liberal arts college located in the Central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Founded in 1880, it was the state’s first private, coeducational college. Today, Bridgewater College is home nearly 1,900 undergraduate students.

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