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Past Keynote Speakers

Founded in 1966, the ABA's Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice (formerly Individual Rights and Responsibilities) is dedicated to fostering a greater appreciation and understanding of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights among members of the bar and the general public. Through education and advocacy, CRSJ expresses the legal profession's commitment to work to achieve the American ideals of justice, freedom, and equality for all through the legal system. The Thurgood Marshall Award was established in 1992 to help further these goals.

The Thurgood Marshall Award is named for 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 is intended to recognize 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. Justice Marshall received the inaugural award in 1992.

Keynote Speakers

2023 AWARD - Kristen Clarke

2022 AWARD - Elaine R. Jones

2021 AWARD
- No keynote, mulitple speakers throughout the virtual celebration

2020 AWARD 
- Valerie Jarrett

2019 AWARD 
- Rhiannon Giddens (performance)

2018 AWARD 
- Sherrilyn Ifill

2017 AWARD
 - Dean Erwin Chemerinsky

2016 AWARD 
- Bryan Stevenson

2015 AWARD 
- Scott Turow

2014 AWARD
 - Professor Lani Guinier

2013 AWARD 
- James J. Brosnahan

2012 AWARD 
- Geoffrey Stone

2011 AWARD
 - Justice Rosalie Abella

2010 AWARD
 - Pamela S. Karlan

2009 AWARD
- Hon. Abner J. Mikva

2008 AWARD
 - John Payton

2007 AWARD
 - Hon. Thelton E. Henderson

2006 AWARD
 - Hon. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI)

2005 AWARD
 - U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens

2004 AWARD - 
Rev. Joseph A. Lowery

2003 AWARD
 - Justice Joyce Kennard

2002 AWARD 
- Roger Wilkens

2001 AWARD
 - Professor Charles J. Ogletree, Jr.

2000 AWARD
 - Gay McDougall

1999 AWARD
 - Hon. William F. Winter

1998 AWARD
 - Hon. Shirley S. Abrahamson

1997 AWARD
 - Hon. Martha Craig Daughtrey

1996 AWARD
 - Elaine R. Jones

1995 AWARD
 - Hon. Leon Higginbotham

1994 AWARD
 - Congressman John Lewis (D-GA)

1993 AWARD
 - Ambassador Andrew Young

1992 AWARD
 - Philip A. Lacovara, Welcome; Stephen L. Carter, Reflection; and Karen Hastie Williams, Presentation (no keynote for presentation to Justice Thurgood Marshall himself)