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NYCLA AND MBBA HOST BLACK HISTORY MONTH AWARD RECEPTION: JACQUELINE A. BERRIEN TO RECEIVE IDA B. WELLS-BARNETT JUSTICE AWARD ON FEBRUARY 24
FEBRUARY 17, 2010 – NEW YORK, NY – In honor of Black History Month, the New York County Lawyers’ Association (NYCLA) and Metropolitan Black Bar Association (MBBA) will present the eighth annual Ida B. Wells- Barnett Justice Award to Jacqueline A. Berrien, associate director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., on Wednesday, February 24 at the NYCLA Home of Law, 14 Vesey Street beginning at 6:00 PM. Hon. Pam Jackman Brown, Supervising Judge of the Civil Court of the City of New York, is the program chair.
Entertainment will be provided by Michelle Belches, a court officer, who will sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the black national anthem that was first performed publicly as a poem in celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday 110 years ago. The lyrics of the song were written by the principal of a Florida school, James Weldon Johnson, to introduce the school’s honored guest, Booker T. Washington.
Jacqueline A. Berrien, Esq.
Ms. Berrien was recently nominated to head the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by President Barack Obama, who stated that she “has spent her entire career fighting to give voice to underrepresented communities and protect our most basic rights.” Her nomination is awaiting a confirmation vote by the full Senate. As associate director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), Ms. Berrien reports directly to the organization’s president and director-counsel and assists with the direction and implementation of LDF’s national legal advocacy and scholarship programs. From 2001 to 2004, she was a program officer in the Governance and Civil Society Unit of the Ford Foundation’s Peace and Social Justice Program. Before joining the Ford Foundation, Ms. Berrien practiced civil rights law for more than 15 years. From 1994 to 2001, she was an assistant counsel with LDF, coordinating all of its work in the area of voting rights and political participation, and representing African-American voters in proceedings before the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Courts of Appeals and U.S. District Courts. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Ms. Berrien has taught trial advocacy at Harvard and Fordham law schools and was appointed to the adjunct faculty of New York Law School in 1995.
Last year Gloria Browne-Marshall, author of Race, Law, and American Society: 1607 to the Present and associate professor of Constitutional Law at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, received the award.
Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1931)
Ida B. Wells, the daughter of slaves, was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi and went on to become a teacher, newspaper editor, journalist, orator, suffragist and anti-lynching crusader. In 1884, after she was forcibly removed from her seat for refusing to move to a “colored car” on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, she filed suit against the railroad for violating her civil rights. Ms. Wells won her case in the local circuit court, but the railroad company appealed to the Tennessee Supreme Court, which reversed the lower court’s ruling in 1877. She lived in Chicago and in 1895, married Ferdinand L. Barnett, a fellow crusader and well-known attorney, as well as the founder of The Conservator newspaper. In 1930, Ms. Wells-Barnett ran for the Illinois state legislature, one of the first black women ever to run for public office in the United States.
The New York County Lawyers’ Association (www.nycla.org) was founded in 1908 as the first major bar association in the country that admitted members without regard to race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual identity. Since its inception, it has pioneered some of the most far-reaching and tangible reforms in American jurisprudence and has continuously played an active role in legal developments and public policy.
Founded in 1984, the Metropolitan Black Bar Association (MBBA) (www.mbbany.org) was created from the merger of the Harlem Lawyers Association, founded in 1921, and the Bedford Stuyvesant Lawyers Association, founded in 1933. As one of the largest organizations of Black attorneys in New York State, the MBBA continues the rich legacy of its two predecessor organizations by providing a voice for Black legal professionals in the communities it serves.
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