Source: LDF

LDF is pleased to announce that its former President and Director-Counsel, Elaine R. Jones, received the Trailblazer Award from the Just the Beginning Foundation (JTBF) on September 22, 2012 at its Gala Dinner in Chicago, Illinois.  JBTF is composed primarily of judges and lawyers who develop educational programs designed to interest students of color in legal careers.  Its goal is to increase racial diversity in the legal profession and the judiciary.

Elaine received the Trailblazer Award in tribute to her career-long dedication to promoting racial diversity on the federal bench.  She was recognized as one of the first advocates on the issue of judicial selection and praised for her enormous contributions to increasing African-American representation on the federal bench, beginning in the Carter Administration. 

JBTF honored President Jimmy Carter and Retired Judge George Leighton of the Northern District of Illinois at the same event.  Several Carter appointees, also known as Trailblazers, were in attendance, including Judge Damon Keith (Sixth Circuit); Judge Nathaniel Jones (Sixth Circuit); Judge U.W. Clemon (N.D. Ala.); Judge Anna Diggs Taylor (E.D. Mich.); Judge Terry Hatter (C.D. Cal.); Judge Consuelo Marshall (C.D. Cal.); Judge Ann Thompson (D.N.J.); and Judge Horace Ward (N.D. Ga.).

With nine African-American appointments to the appellate bench, President Carter still holds the record:  No other Administration has appointed as many African Americans to the circuit courts in one term.

Asked why she devoted substantial time to the issue of judicial nominations, Elaine responded, “A federal judiciary that is not thoroughly diverse lacks the legitimacy it needs in a pluralistic society such as ours.” 

Leslie Proll, who continues LDF’s judicial selection work, stated, “Elaine established the model, followed by many communities today, for promoting the representation of minorities and women on the federal bench.  With judicial nominations becoming increasingly politicized, LDF’s voice in pressing for judicial diversity is as critical as ever.”

For JTBF’s statistics on racial diversity in the judiciary, please see