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Biographical Details of Leadership
Contemporary Lens on Black Leadership
Historical Focus on Race
Elaine Jones is one of America's foremost civil rights lawyers, and well-known as a fearless crusader in numerous social justice causes. Born and raised in the Jim Crow South of Norfolk, Virginia, Jones grew up conscious of "the realities of racism and the importance of idealism."
As a graduate of Howard University and a veteran of the Peace Corps, Jones continued to meet challenges head on, becoming the first African American woman to graduate from the University of Virginia School of Law, the first African American elected to the American Bar Association's Board of Governors, and the first woman to head NAACP Legal Defense Fund, on which she served first as Director-Council and later as president from 1993 to 2004. She helped litigate the case Furman v. Georgia before the Supreme Court, which struck down the death penalty in thirty-seven states.
Additionally, Jones has lent her enormous energy and talents to issues ranging from education to employment discrimination, health care to environmental justice. She was honored by President Clinton with the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award. Jones also received the Trailblazer Award from Just the Beginning Foundation. She has received many other prestigious awards including the American Lawyer Lifetime Achievement Award and the Wells-Barnett Justice Award of the Metropolitan Bar Association.