The Future is Ours

35th National Equal Justice Awards Dinner

May 4, 2023
The Glasshouse
New York City

The National Equal Justice Awards Dinner, LDF’s signature event, is an opportunity to recognize and honor leaders in law, the arts, business, and philanthropy who have demonstrated a commitment to the promotion of racial justice and equality. The evening also serves as an opportunity to celebrate the tremendous civil rights work that has been accomplished by LDF over the past year. NEJAD was held on May 4, 2023.

The Honorees

Pioneering Civil Rights Movement attorney Fred Gray was awarded the Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his decades-long career advancing racial justice and equality. Mr. Gray served as a cooperating attorney with LDF since 1956.

Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners Robert F. Smith was awarded the National Equal Justice Award for his stalwart philanthropic leadership in the fight for racial justice.

Nike, Jordan Brand, and Converse were awarded the National Equal Justice Award for their years of support for LDF and service to Black communities.

Emerson Collective was the National Equal Justice Award Program Honoree in recognition of their profound commitment to lifting up leaders, communities, and sustainable solutions.

Legendary filmmaker Spike Lee, NBA star Carmelo Anthony, education pioneer Geoffrey Canada, and Earle, Arkansas Mayor Jaylen Smith presented awards to this year’s honorees. The evening was hosted by ABC7 News Anchor Sade Baderinwa. Brooklyn United Evolution Drumline, Alita Moses, and Ledisi performed throughout the evening.

Fred Gray

Robert F. Smith

Emerson Collective

Nike, Jordan Brand, and Converse

LDF Legacy

Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, who subsequently became the first Black Supreme Court Justice, LDF was launched at a time when the nation’s aspirations for equality and due process of law were stifled by widespread, state-sponsored racial inequality. From our early beginnings to the present, LDF’s mission has always been transformative to achieve racial justice, equality, and a more inclusive society. 

Although great strides have been made as a country as a result of LDF’s historic work and more, there are still significant hurdles to overcome to achieve the status of a true multi-racial, multi-ethnic democracy. The numerous affronts to equality and democracy since spring 2020 have brought our nation close to the brink of unraveling. LDF’s work to challenge threats like voter suppression, housing and employment discrimination, unconstitutional policing practices, and educational and economic disparities, could not be more urgent. At every turn, LDF has been there, fighting in the courts, in the halls of Congress and state houses, and in communities around the country.

NEJAD 2023: The Future is Ours

NEJAD 2023 Sponsors

Presenting Sponsors

Kathy and Dick Fuld

Hope and Robert F. Smith


Thurgood Marshall Circle

Justice Circle

The Gilford Family and Sidley Austin
Katie Mcgrath and J.J. Abrams Family Foundation
Brent and Katie Gledhill
Angela Vallot and James Basker

Benefactor Circle

Anne L. and David E. Kendall
Marva Smalls/Paramount
Nina and Ted Wells
Colleen Foster
Mrs. Robyn Coles and Dr. N. Anthony Coles
Gwen and Gerald Adolph

Patron Circle

Jacqueline and James Castillo
Ursula Burns
John Meyerhoff, M.D. & Lenel Srochi-Meyerhoff
Tawana Tibbs and Bruce S. Gordon
Anne Small


Joan Fabry and Michael R. Klein
Michael Jordan and Family


Isaacson, Miller

Siebert Williams Shank & Co. LLC

Cynthia Patton

Eleanor S. Applewhaite

Jonelle Procope and Fred Terrell

The Morrison & Foerster Foundation