Barbara Arnwine, the renowned civil rights lawyer who led the highly respected Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law for more than two decades, has resigned, the group announced.
Arnwine, who has served as president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee since 1989, is leaving the position effective June 30 to pursue other leadership roles in the civil rights arena.
“Barbara is a civil rights trailblazer, passionately addressing racial discrimination on behalf of the Lawyers’Committee for over two decades, especially in the areas of voting rights, criminal justice and immigration reform,” Lawyers’ Committee Board Co-Chair John Nonna said in a statement. “She has served as a stalwart and visionary leader of the Lawyers’ Committee and we wish her the best as she moves into the next phase of her work.”
The Lawyers’ Committee was convened at the request of President John F. Kennedy to harness the pro bono resources of the best and brightest legal minds to address matters of racial discrimination and injustice and otherwise uphold the civil rights of all Americans.
“Barbara deserves much credit for bringing President Kennedy’s imperative to such vibrant life more than 50 years later,” said Lawyers’ Committee Board Co-Chair Donald Rosenberg.
February marked Arnwine’s 33rd year with the premier civil rights group—26 years with the national office and seven years as a member of the Boston bar association—and that mark was the impetus for her decision, she said in a statement.
“This milestone reminded me that it is time to use my leadership skills and abilities in a new and unique way,” she said.
Arnwine recently launched “Igniting Change with Barbara Arnwine,” a talk radio show on Radio One’s WOL 1450 AM. In addition to seeking more opportunities in the communications arena, she will also continue her civil rights legacy by working on voting rights, policing reform, race and sports and developing the next generation of civil rights and youth leaders.
During her time at the Lawyers’ Committee, the civil rights leader has been involved in every major civil rights legal, public policy and legislative fight over the years. She is internationally renowned for contributions to the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1991 and the 2006 reauthorization of provisions of the Voting Rights Act. More recently, she has gained acclaim for her work on voting rights, including as leader of Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition. And in the wake of several killings of unarmed African-Americans men by police, Arnwine convened the Civil Rights Coalition on Police Reform, working with community and national groups and officials on matters of criminal justice reform.
“I am honored that the Lawyers’ Committee has conferred upon me the title of president emeritus in recognition of my many years of outstanding service,” Arnwine said, adding of the ensuing search for a new president, “I anticipate that the Lawyers’ Committee will seek out a bold civil rights leader as my successor with a proven track record, incredible accomplishments and sacrifice on behalf of civil rights.”