ABA section marks milestone, presents 'Hero' award

The American Bar Association Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice has scheduled a half-day event on Thusday, April 21 in Washington, D.C., an occasion to mark the 50th anniversary of the section and the creation of the Office for Civil Rights–– a sub-agency of the U.S. Department of Education.

The section and office were formed with the mission of ensuring compliance with federal civil rights laws, including the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 that promoted equality in all federally funded programs and activities and outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

The event will feature keynote remarks by ABA President Paulette Brown and Dahlia Lithwick, Slate senior editor and legal correspondent.

In addition, there will be a screening of the documentary “Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment” featuring John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy on the integration crisis in 1963 during a meeting at the White House–– the day before the confrontation of Alabama Gov. George Wallace over the admission of two black students to the University of Alabama.

After the screening, nationally recognized civil rights lawyers and bar leaders will lead a panel discussion on the role of the legal profession in the areas of civil and voting rights, women’s rights, human rights, AIDS and health rights, gender equity and other social justice issue.

The event will conclude with the presentation of the ABA Civil Rights Hero Award to:

• Thomas Perez, U.S. Secretary of Labor

• Marian Wright Edelman, first African-American woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar

• Marcia Greenberger, co-founder of the National Women’s Law Center

• Mark Agrast, executive director and executive vice president of the American Society of International Law

• Vivian Malone, posthumously, one of the first two African-American students to enroll at the University of Alabama in 1963 and the university’s first African-American graduate

• Esther Lardent, posthumously, founder the Pro Bono Institute

The award recognizes sustained commitment to civil rights and social justice by providing leadership or service to the legal profession in protecting and advancing human rights, civil liberties, and social justice.