About The Robert Talbot Civil Rights Speaker Series

The Robert Talbot Civil Rights Speaker Series promotes dialogue and engagement that advances the political, social, educational, and economic equality of all U.S. residents.

Established in 2021 by the Greater Bangor Area Branch NAACP and the University of Maine Alumni Association, the series is named in honor of Robert “Bob” Talbot. For decades the Bangor native has been one of Maine’s foremost leaders in the pursuit of racial equity, justice, and non-discriminatory policies and practices. 

The Robert Talbot Civil Rights Speaker Series will consist of an annual fall event featuring one or more high-profile state or national civil rights activists. Each year’s program will be held on the UMaine campus unless circumstances require the event to be held online. Given the series’ educational importance, the annual event will be structured to attract and accommodate students and members of the public. No admission fee will be charged.

Watch the 2022 Robert Talbot Civil Rights Speaker Series
“Civil Rights and the Courts”

The Honorable Rick E. Lawrence
Associate Justice, Maine Supreme Judicial Court

Followed by remarks from attorneys Ukeme Awakessien Jeter ’04 and Angela Okafor regarding the program’s theme.

About Justice Lawrence

Associate Justice Rick E. Lawrence of Portland is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School. Upon earning his law degree, he joined the Portland law firm of Pierce, Atwood, Scribner, Allen, Smith & Lancaster. In 1993 he joined UNUM Life Insurance Co. as an insurance claims litigator. In 1998 he began work on insurance contract development and state regulatory approval of insurance products for UNUMProvident Life Insurance Co.

In April 2000 Governor Angus King appointed Lawrence to a seven-year term as a judge of the Maine District Court.  He was subsequently reappointed to additional seven-year terms by Governors John Baldacci, Paul LePage, and Janet Mills.  He also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Maine Law School from 2014 to 2020.

In 2022 Governor Mills appointed Lawrence to Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court.  He was sworn in as Associate Justice on May 4, 2022.


About Ukeme Awakessien Jeter

A 2004 UMaine graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering, Ukeme Awakessien is an intellectual property attorney and partner with the law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister. In addition, Jeter is a community activist who earlier this year was elected to the Upper Arlington (Ohio) City Council. Her extensive volunteer work includes serving as a member of the UMaine Alumni Association’s Board of Directors.


About Angela Okafor 

Angela Okafor is an immigration attorney with Okafor Law Practice and has served for the past three years as a member of the Bangor City Council. Currently Okafor is serving as Acting Director of Outreach and Community Engagement for the State of Maine’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Tribal Populations.  In addition, Okafor is a small businessperson who owns an international food market and a salon, both located in Bangor.

Watch the inaugural event
Robert Talbot Civil Rights Speaker Series from October 2021

Fighting Time co-authors
Amy Banks and Isaac Knapper

Click below to watch it on YouTube!



Support the Robert Talbot Civil Rights Speaker Series

Donations to the fund are tax-deductible and are held by the University of Maine Foundation. Donations and sponsorships will be used solely to cover costs associated with the annual event, which will be organized by the Alumni Association in coordination with the Greater Bangor Area Branch NAACP. Tax-deductible donations may be made here. Thank you!

Contact Nicolette Hashey at nicolette.hashey@maine.edu for more information.