Leading Civil Rights Lawyer Elaine R. Jones to Receive 2011 Thurgood Marshall Award at ABA Annual Meeting
CHICAGO July 15, 2011 – The American Bar Association Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities will honor pioneering civil rights lawyer Elaine R. Jones with the Thurgood Marshall Award, which will be presented Saturday, Aug. 6, at the ABA Annual Meeting in Toronto. The event will be held at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel beginning at 8 p.m.
Jones served as the first woman president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., founded in 1940 by Thurgood Marshall. She was the first African-American woman to graduate from the University of Virginia School of Law and was on the plaintiff’s legal team in Furman v. Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court case that in 1972 abolished the death penalty in 37 states. She also has litigated numerous class action employment discrimination cases challenging race and gender discrimination in the workplace.
In 1988, Jones became the first African-American to integrate the American Bar Association’s Board of Governors, where she served for three years. A former council member of the ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, she has remained active within the association and currently serves on its Task Force on the Preservation of the Justice System.
The Thurgood Marshall Award recognizes substantial, long-term contributions to the advancement of civil rights, civil liberties and human rights in the United States. The section established the award in 1992, conferring the inaugural award upon U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Previous recipients have included Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and former Attorney General Janet Reno.
The keynote speaker for this year’s event will be Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella of the Supreme Court of Canada. Abella has demonstrated a strong commitment to civil rights, human rights and social justice during her career. She served as a commissioner on the Ontario Human Rights Commission, a member of the Ontario Public Service Labour Relations Tribunal, and as chair of the Study on Access to Legal Services by the Disabled. She was the sole commissioner of the 1984 federal Royal Commission on Equality in Employment, creating the term and concept of “employment equity.”
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the world’s largest voluntary professional membership organization. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.
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Editor’s Note: a high-resolution photo of Elaine R. Jones is available here.