Thurgood Marshall Award


Submissions must be sent electronically no later than
Friday, October 16, 2015.


Please send electronic copies of the nomination form and supporting material to the Section Office at



Established by the American Bar Association and the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice (formerly the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities) in 1992, the Thurgood Marshall Award honors U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who epitomized individual commitment, in word and action, to the cause of civil rights in this country. The award recognizes similar long-term contributions by other members of the legal profession to the advancement of civil rights, civil liberties, and human rights in the United States.

American Bar Association members, leaders, and entities, as well as all other bar associations, are invited to submit nominations for the award. Nominations also are welcome from other groups or individuals that are involved in civil rights, civil liberties, and human rights issues. Re-nominations of individuals nominated in past years are encouraged; nomination packages should be updated as necessary and re-submitted electronically.

Nominees for the award must have made substantial and long-term contributions to the furtherance of civil rights, civil liberties, or human rights in this country. A "substantial" contribution shall be considered to be one evincing a level of dedication or achievement beyond that required or expected in the normal course of an individual's work. "Long-term" generally shall be considered to be at least 10 years. Nominees should be judges or duly licensed members of the bar in good standing. However, a non-lawyer who otherwise qualifies for the award may be considered for the award in exceptional circumstances. (Nominations of individuals posthumously cannot be considered.)

The award will be presented at the 2016 Thurgood Marshall Award Dinner on Saturday, August 6, during the ABA’s 2016 Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California.


A nomination submission should include the following:


I.   Nomination Form.  The nomination form must be completed and submitted as the cover sheet of the nomination package.

II.    Photo.  A current photo of the nominee must be included.

III.   Nominee Resume. The nomination package must include a resume or similar docu­ment that describes the candidate's professional background and achievements and other relevant activities.  At minimum, the information provided should include educational background, principal areas of practice, the number of years in practice, professional achievements, other public service contributions, and other bar association activities.

IV.   Biography.  The nomination package must include a narrative biography describing the nominee’s substantial and long-term contributions to the advancement of civil rights, civil liberties, and human rights in the United States.

V.   Letters of Support.  Letters of support from other individuals and organizations knowledgeable about the candidate's contributions are strongly encouraged.  No more than five letters of support will be accepted.

The Thurgood Marshall Award Committee, comprised of five members who are former chairs or current Council members of the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, reviews all nominations.  The committee forwards its recommendation for an award recipient to the Section Council for approval. The recipient must be available to receive the award in person.

Announcement of the award recipient will be made in November 2015.  The Section reserves the right not to present the award in any given year.