The Fort Collins and northern Colorado communities are invited to attend the public lecture, "’There is a Striking Resemblance Between You and a Monkey’: The Epperson vs. Arkansas Evolution Ruling, Supreme Court, 1968," at 6 p.m. June 27 in the Lory Student Center Theatre at Colorado State University. The discussion, free and open to the public, will be presented by Susan Epperson, the former high-school biology teacher whose determination to teach evolution in her classroom led to the Supreme Court overturning the ban on teaching evolutionary biology in public schools and universities.
The lecture will describe Epperson’s personal role in the case and is particularly relevant to the current public debate surrounding the teaching of evolution and creation science in public schools and universities. The quote in the title, "There is a Striking Resemblance Between You and a Monkey," comes from a letter Epperson received during the time of the court case.
The lecture is a public outreach component of Evolution 2004, an international conference taking place June 26-30, hosted this year at Colorado State, which is focused on the field of evolutionary biology. More than 1,100 scientists and students from institutions throughout the world are expected to attend the annual symposium jointly sponsored by the Society for the Study of Evolution, Society of Systematic Biologists and The American Society of Naturalists.
Epperson was born, raised and attended public school in Arkansas. After obtaining a master’s degree in zoology from the University of Illinois, she returned to Arkansas in 1964 to teach 10th grade biology in the Little Rock school system. The textbook she was to instruct from included a chapter on evolution that was illegal for her to teach under Arkansas’ anti-evolution statute. This law was created in 1928, shortly after the famous Scopes "Monkey Trial."
In 1965, with the help of the Arkansas Education Association, she filed suit against the State of Arkansas in Chancery Court. In 1966, the Chancery Court declared the law against the teaching of evolution unconstitutional. This ruling was eventually appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously in 1968 that the law was unconstitutional, overturning 40 years of anti-evolution statutes.
Epperson remains a dedicated biology teacher and currently teaches chemistry and environmental science at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.
In addition to the public outreach lecture, the Evolution 2004 conference will include a variety of presentations, symposia, poster sessions, exhibits and other special events. For a complete schedule of events and listing of presentations or for more information about the conference or the public lecture, go on the Web to http://evolution04.biology.colostate.edu.