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For Immediate Release

Press Release

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Hosts 21th Annual Gala to Spotlight Continued Fight for Racial Justice

WASHINGTON -

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law will host its 21st annual A. Leon Higginbotham Leadership Awards Gala on Wednesday, October 20, 2021 at 5 pm ET. This event highlights the multifaceted work of the Lawyers’ Committee to advance racial justice while celebrating the individuals in the community who fight for equality, justice and the dignity of all people. 

The prestigious Higginbotham Gala was established in 2000 in honor of its namesake, the late Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr.—a pioneering civil rights advocate, author, and federal appeals court judge. Past honorees at the Gala include scholar and author Nikole Hannah Jones, civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, Black Lives Matter co-founder Opal Tometi, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and former Attorney General Eric Holder. 

This year’s Gala theme, “Making The Promises of Democracy Real,” reflects the Lawyers’ Committee’s efforts in the past year to advance opportunity, prosperity, and justice by advocating for fair housing and economic security amid the global pandemic, leading the fight for meaningful police accountability, and protecting voting rights by challenging a wave of voter suppression bills, misinformation, and violent attacks following record voter turnout in the 2020 election .  

“Our mission at the Lawyers’ Committee is to help ensure that Black people and other communities of color have the voice, opportunity, and power to make the promises of our democracy real,” said Damon Hewitt, president and executive director with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Our gala, named after Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, a giant in the civil rights community upon whose shoulders we stand, proudly recognizes exceptional leaders who work tirelessly to advance racial justice, moving our country to a fuller, fairer and freer version of democracy.”

The Lawyers’ Committee will honor five individuals whose actions have helped make our country a fairer place over the past year. The honorees include:

Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett, will receive the Distinguished Civil Rights Advocate Award for her extraordinary work advocating for legislation promoting rural development in infrastructure, and community and economic development for underserved communities in the Virgin Islands. Congresswoman Plaskett, represents the U.S. Virgin Islands, and is the first member of Congress representing a U.S. Territory to serve on the exclusive House Committee on Ways and Means, and only the fourth African American woman to do so.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, will receive the Legacy of Justice Award for his commitment to and legacy of advancing racial justice and civil rights on behalf of underserved communities. Attorney General Ellison is the first African-American and Muslim representative of Minnesota and served as a Member of Congress for over a decade. After taking over the prosecution of Derek Chauvin, Attorney General Ellison and his team successfully secured a rare conviction of a police officer.  

Big Ten Conference Commissioner Kevin Warren will receive the Racial Justice Trailblazer Award. He is the first African American to lead the Big Ten Conference. Commissioner Warren created the Big Ten Conference Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition after the killing of George Floyd, which unites student-athletes, coaches, and staff to combat racism and hate around the world. Under Commissioner Warren’s visionary leadership, the Big Ten Conference also partnered with the Lawyers Committee to launch a voter registration initiative to encourage student-athletes to participate in the electoral process.

Renee Montgomery, a two-time WNBA champion and Vice President and part-owner of the Atlanta Dream, will receive the Beacon of Justice Award. Renee has worked tirelessly to promote racial justice, advocate for police reform and accountability, and champion voting rights for communities of color and the disenfranchised.

Brian Moynihan, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Bank of America, will receive the 2021 A. Leon Higginbotham Leadership Award for his dedication to creating opportunity for all, both inside the company and throughout the communities it serves. Brian has led Bank of America’s Global Diversity and Inclusion Council for more than a decade and, during his tenure as CEO, Bank of America has built a more diverse and inclusive workplace at every level of the company. Bank of America recently accelerated its longstanding work to drive racial equality and economic opportunity in its communities with a $1.25 billion, 5-year commitment. To date, Bank of America has funded more than $400 million of this commitment, with a focus on jobs and reskilling, support for small businesses, health and healthcare and affordable housing.

Register and support the movement for racial justice at  www.lawyerscommittee.org/gala.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to activate lawyers in the fight against racial discrimination. Now in its 58th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law maintains one of the most comprehensive racial justice programs of any organization in the country. The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of voting rights, criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and hate crimes.

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The Lawyers’ Committee is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to enlist the private bar’s leadership and resources in combating racial discrimination and the resulting inequality of opportunity – work that continues to be vital today.

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