32nd National Equal Justice Awards Dinner Hosted by the NAACP LDF

(NEW YORK) – November 2, 2018 – Last night, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc (LDF) hosted their 32ndNational Equal Justice Awards Dinner (NEJAD) at the Ziegfeld Ballroom where they celebrated the achievements of several distinguished civil and human rights leaders and raised over $2 million to help further the mission of the LDF. 

In front of an audience of 650, Marian Wright Edelman (Founder/President of the Children’s Defense Fund) and Judge U.W. Clemon (Alabama’s first African-American federal judge) received the Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award, while theNational Equal Justice Award went to Bryan Stevenson (Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative) and philanthropist couple Dr. P. Roy Vagelos (Chairman of the Board, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) and Diana Vagelos (Vice Chairman of Barnard Board of Trustees and Vice President/Treasurer of the Marianthi Foundation, Inc.).

Additional attendees included author Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Insecure” actor Kendrick Sampson, Women’s March co-chair Linda Sarsour, Miss Haiti 2014 Christie Desir, and writer Jamilah Lemieux. TV and radio personality Jacque Reid served as emcee.

With the mid-term elections just five days away, voting was on everyone’s mind. LDF president and director-counsel Sherrilyn Ifillpresented a short documentary (produced by filmmaker Crystal McCrary McGuire) that chronicled the work of the LDF and the challenges they face in today’s political climate. The video featured commentary from LDF associate director-counsel Janai Nelsonamong others and underscored the evening’s theme of “Justice. Equality. Democracy.” 

In keeping with that theme, Tony and Grammy Award-winning artist Renee Elise Goldsberry performed the inspirational song “People Get Ready,” once sung by Aretha Franklin whose music was highlighted throughout the dinner.

“I’m standing on the shoulders of people who did so much more with so much less,” said Stevenson during his acceptance speech. “My grandfather realized that slavery didn’t end in 1865, it evolved. So he taught his daughter – my grandmother – that she had to fight. We cannot celebrate civil rights if we’re not willing to fight. We’ve got to fight!”


Special thanks to National Equal Justice Awards Dinner honorary chairs Kenneth and Andrea Frazier, co-chairs Angela Vallotand Kim Koopersmith and the entire LDF staff.


For video highlights from #NEJAD18, visit naacpldf.org.


About the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.

A Burst Of Color: How The Fashion Industry Is Now Seeing That Black IS Beautiful

With an industry that has previously been dominated by white designers and white models, Lagos puts a foot down and says no more. In the wake of Black History Month, there is no better time to spotlight the amazing efforts of up and coming designers coming straight out of Nigeria. Lagos is proving why the city of over 21 million should be added to the list of fashion capitals of the world alongside Rome, Paris, New York, and London. With the beauty of the prints and traditional culture kept within the clothes, Nigerian designers display their pride of Nigeria, which has caught the eyes of many fashion editors and designers alike around the world. Launching in just 2011, Lagos Fashion Week, also known as Lagos Fashion and Design Week has grown immensely since. Just this past fall, the event featured dozens of Nigerian designers of both tender and established experience. The Lagos Fashion and Design Week aims to encourage creativity within their Nigerian designers. Because of their exposure in Nigeria, designers like Folake Folarin-Coker (Brand: Tiffany Amber), have had the opportunity to display their clothing during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

But the bold and striking tribal designs influenced by African culture are not the only things catching fashion's eye; it's the models. With Lagos slowly gaining their credibility as a fashion capital, people are noticing the plethora of black models being showcased in the shows. This is not something common in the fashion industry, where many of these models of color are not given a fair chance. Because of the opportunities given to them by LFDW, they are now being able to build stable careers as models elsewhere. It is a sign of the times, and the strides we have made not only in the industry, but in society, accepting the beauty of black. The power and positivity of these changes only preview what's to come. The barriers that Nigeria has broken in the industry, supporting these black models is overflowing into fashion's realm.