Elaine R. Jones, retired president and director-counsel emeritus of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF) and Howard University alumna, has been named the recipient of the American Bar Association’s 2011 Thurgood Marshall Award. In 1993, Jones became the first woman and only the fourth person to head LDF, the nation’s oldest law firm fighting for equal rights and justice for people of color, women and the poor. LDF was founded in 1940 by former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.
By the time she took over the helm of LDF, Jones had already blazed several legal trails, defending death row inmates and arguing major class-action employment discrimination against corporate giants like Monsanto, American Tobacco Co. and Pullman Standard. “I knew from the age of eight that I wanted to be a lawyer because I saw so much wrong in the world,” Jones said in a press statement. “Black people were sitting in the back of the bus, going to segregated schools and were afraid of policemen in their communities. It made me say to myself, what can I do to change this?”
The award will be presented at a dinner on Aug. 6, 2011, during the ABA annual meeting in Toronto, Canada.