Victim’s mother combats hate

By Sara Adams

Judy Shepard, the mother of hate crime victim Matthew Shepard, will speak Thursday at NIU about her son and what people can do to combat hate in America.

“She’s someone that normally wouldn’t come to campus, and she’ll be talking about something that isn’t talked about a lot,” said Tiffany Gonzales, coordinator of CAB Speakers.

Shepard will speak at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Holmes Student Center in the Carl Sandburg Auditorium.

Matthew Shepard was the victim of an anti-gay hate crime in Oct. 1998. Shepard was tied to a fence, tortured, beaten and left dead. He died after spending five days in a coma.

His mother will address what happened to her son, how her family coped and how students can get involved, Gonzales said. There will also be a one-hour meet-and-greet following her speech.

In Dec. 1998, Shepard started the Matthew Shepard Foundation and began speaking to colleges and businesses about preventing hate crimes.

“She is a person that everyone can relate to,” said Margie Cook, coordinator for the NIU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center. “Everyone can understand how difficult and horrible it would have been and there is a lot of interest in hearing her story.”

There is always potential for hate crimes to happen in any community, although hate crimes haven’t been much of a problem on the NIU campus recently, Cook said. Bringing Shepard to campus is not a reaction to anything that has happened at NIU or in the community.

“We’re just trying to bring more awareness to the campus,” Cook said.