Hundreds gathered in New York City Wednesday night to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Legal Defense Fund as well as the influential career of former attorney general Eric Holder.
Founded in 1940 by Thurgood Marshall, the LDF and its team of lawyers have worked tirelessly to reach its mission of achieving an equal and just American society for all.
“We need to be thee for our clients who face challenges that may be hard for many of us to imagine,” said LDF president and director-counsel Sherrilyn Ifill. “They face affronts to their dignity and their citizenship every day just to exercise the right to vote; to have their children treated humanely in school; to not have one mistake they made as a teenager render them unemployable 40 years later; to have a fair trial or be free from arbitrary police violence.”
The organization presented Holder, who began his career as an LDF intern, with the Lifetime Achievement Award, citing his continuous fight for justice.
“Tonight is a time for recommitment,” Holder said. “We have learned that there are no permanent victories, only trials that must be jealously guarded and rigorously protected.”
Pointing to recent attacks on voting rights and laws discriminating against people based on their race and sexual orientation, Holder urged the current generation to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors.
“From the history of this organization, we know that every generation is tested and called upon to make real the promise of our democracy,” Holder said. “And so it is again…We owe to future generations our best effort to give them a nation that is more fair and that is more just.”