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Steve C. Jones, U.S. District Judge of the Northern District of Georgia, speaks at the University of Georgia fall undergraduate commencement ceremony at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia, on Friday, Dec. 14, 2018. The University of Georgia welcomed 1,575 undergraduates and 1,224 graduate students during its fall 2018 commencement ceremonies. (Photo/Rebecca Wright)

U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones of the Northern District of Georgia will be the keynote speaker for the 17th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Breakfast, a University of Georgia news release announced.

The event, slated for 8 a.m. on Jan. 17, is hosted by UGA in conjunction with Athens-Clarke County and the Clarke County School District. Jones will give his speech in the Tate Student Center’s Grand Hall.

Jones previously served as a superior court judge in the Western Judicial Circuit, which contains Athens-Clarke and Oconee Counties, for 16 years. Appointed to his current post by former President Barack Obama in 2011, he presides over cases involving “the United States government, the Constitution, federal laws, civil disputes and other matters.”

The Freedom Breakfast, hosted on MLK Day, “honors the legacy of the late civil rights leader and recognizes local community members dedicated to contributing to race relations, justice and human rights with the President’s Fulfilling the Dream Award.”

An Athens native, Jones is a graduate of Cedar Shoals High School. He graduated from UGA in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in management and earned his law degree from UGA School of Law in 1987.

Jones recently caught headlines by temporarily blocking the controversial anti-abortion “heartbeat” bill — House Bill 481 — that was signed into law by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp earlier this year. The law would have banned most abortions in the state and is expected to make its way through the courts.

UGA is selling tickets for the breakfast at $25 apiece, or $200 for a table of eight.

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