CLSJ 30th Anniversary Celebration Honoree in Memoriam:
Jacqueline Berrien, Esq.
The Center for Law and Social Justice is pleased to announce the honorees for our 3oth Anniversary Celebration. Our theme, Celebrating 30 of Staying on Freedom and Justice, speaks to our historic commitment to being a constant and persistent voice on behalf of African descendant and disenfranchised communities. With your support at this year’s Celebration, you can help us lay the foundation for the next 30 years. This year’s honorees, attorney Esmeralda Simmons and attorney Jacqueline Berrien and Vice Chancellor Emerita of the New York State Board of Regents, Dr. Adelaide Sanford, epitomize that commitment.
Jacqueline Berrien, Esq.
Jacqueline A. Berrien, was an extraordinary and highly accomplished civil rights lawyer, the 14th Chair of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2010-2014), and beloved associate director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and the civil rights community at large. Ms. Berrien succumbed to a brief but intense battle with cancer late last fall. The Center for Law and Social Justice is pleased to honor Ms. Berrien and her tireless legacy of “staying on freedom and justice.”
According to Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of LDF, “There are few people who embody the pillars of the civil rights struggle as Jacqueline Berrien did. The talent, dedication, and humility with which she carried out her efforts to enforce our country’s equal employment, voting rights, and access to education laws should serve as beacons for all who do this work. We are extremely saddened by her loss and will do our part to ensure that the institutions she led, including LDF, are imbued with her spirit.”
A tenacious advocate for civil rights and equal protection under the law throughout her career, Berrien brought an incomparable standard of excellence, intellect, and diligence to her work. After clerking for Hon. U.W. Clemon, the first African-American U.S. District Court judge in Birmingham, Alabama, Berrien became a staff attorney at the National Legal Project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and then the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. Berrien joined LDF as an Assistant Counsel in 1994 where she became a renowned voting rights lawyer and ultimately went on to lead LDF’s Political Participation Group as its director. Jackie left LDF in 2001 to serve as a Program Officer in the Ford Foundation’s Peace and Social Justice Program, where she administered more than $13 million in grants to promote greater political participation by underrepresented groups and remove barriers to civic engagement.
Upon her passing, President Obama praised, “Jackie’s leadership and passion for ensuring everyone gets a fair chance to succeed in the workplace has changed our country for the better. She spent her entire career fighting to give voice to underrepresented communities.”
Berrien graduated from Oberlin College and Harvard Law School, where she served as a General Editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. She later served as an Adjunct Professor at Harvard Law School, as well as at New York Law School. A native of Washington, D.C., Berrien was a proud member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority and of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Brooklyn.
We invite you to join us as we honor her life, her legacy and her commitment to “staying on freedom and justice.”