March 16, 2003
Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass.- Judy Shepard, the mother of Matthew Shepard and the co-founder of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, will speak at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 11, in Johnson Chapel at Amherst College, as the keynote speaker at the college's fifth annual Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgendered Alumni/Student Mentoring Weekend. Her talk will be free and open to the public. A reception will follow.
Matthew Shepard was just 21 years old when he was murdered in 1998-killed by strangers because he was gay. His parents, Judy and Dennis, founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation so that their grief might make a difference. Judy, a reluctant activist, has made the prevention of hate crimes the focus of her work. She has testified in Congress in support of hate crimes legislation, appeared in public service advertisements that denounced hate, and contuinues to work to help schools and communities across the nation to become safer for everyone, regardless of their race, sex, religion or sexual orientation.
"We just hope we're doing what Matthew would want us to do," Shepard says. "We realize that we must use the voice his death has given us. I realize that what I can try and accomplish is to make people aware. We get so complacent in our lives that we forget not everyone is safe, and frequently, it is our children who aren't safe."
The Matthew Shepard Foundation has a Website at http://www.matthewshepard.org/.