Celebrating Black History: Past, Present, and Future

Nothing could be more important to the future of the nation than its full expression of democracy.

During Black History Month, we focus on the role LDF has played in the legacy and contributions of African Americans — past, present, and future. As the country’s first and foremost civil and human rights law firm, we have fought for racial justice through litigation, advocacy, and public education since 1940.

As we approach the 80th anniversary of our founding, we honor Black History Month by celebrating the achievements of our current and previous counsel, along with those of countless other Black Americans, while also acknowledging that there is still much work to do. 

The Past

In 1940, our founder, Thurgood Marshall, created LDF with a vision of what America should look like, and aimed to ensure that African Americans attain veritable and rightful equality that would truly make the United States realize its democratic ideals. With historic legal victories that desegregated schools, expanded access to the ballot box, and opened pathways to quality education and jobs, LDF and its allies have made significant headway in advancing this mission. Though, there are still many barriers that need to be broken down and rightful legal protections that need to be secured – and we will continue to work tirelessly to achieve these objectives.

Click here to learn more about the Legal Defense Fund’s past.

Black History from the LDF Archives

The Present and Future

“This is a time in which young people are very conscious, willing to put themselves on the line and make sacrifices, very much like the young people in the civil rights movement.”
– Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF President and Director-Counsel

Just like the lawyers and advocates before us, this generation is engaged in extraordinary work. We have a young, dynamic, and diverse team that is well-versed in the legacy they advance each day. Their steadfast dedication is a testament to the civil rights heroes who came before them and the future generations whose lives will be shaped by their efforts. 

We honor the next generation of civil rights litigators–members of our team who are creating the civil rights narrative of the future and building a more equitable tomorrow. During this important month, we ask that you help support our team’s crucial work by following them on Twitter as they share their experiences working on the front lines of civil rights legal reform.  

Follow this generation of LDF and civil rights leadership:

Sherrilyn Ifill (@SIfill_LDF), President and Director-Counsel 
Janai Nelson (@JNelsonLDF), Associate Director-Counsel
Sam Spital (@SamSpital), Director of Litigation
Lisa Cylar Barrett (@lisa_cylar), Director of Policy
Janell Byrd-Chichester (@JByrd_DC), Director of the Thurgood Marshall Institute
Jin Hee Lee (@JLee_LDF), Senior Deputy Director of Litigation
Thurgood Marshall Institute (@TMI_LDF)