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 Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Honors Life and Legacy of Jacqueline A. Berrien


WASHINGTON, D.C., November 10, 2015 – The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law released the following statement regarding the passing of Jacqueline A. Berrien, who died on November 8, 2015:


 The national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee) offers condolences on the passing of Jacqueline A. Berrien.  Between 1987 and 1994, Berrien worked as an attorney with the Voting Rights Project of the Lawyers’ Committee in Washington, D.C.  More recently, she served as chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after President Obama nominated her in 2009 to lead the agency charged with ending unlawful discrimination in the nation’s workplaces.  Prior to her tenure with the EEOC, she worked with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), where she served as associate director-counsel.  In addition, between 2001 and 2004, Berrien was a program officer in the Governance and Civil Society Unit of the Ford Foundation’s Peace and Social Justice Program, where she administered grants to promote greater political participation by underrepresented groups and remove barriers to civic engagement.

“Jackie Berrien was a giant in the field of contemporary civil rights enforcement and was deeply committed to making our democracy a better place for everyone,” said incoming Lawyers’ Committee President and Executive Director Kristen Clarke. “Guided by her integrity and the power of her convictions, she served as a powerful voice for the voiceless and a passionate advocate on behalf of marginalized people across our country.  She was a beacon of light who dedicated her life to promoting justice and equality.  Simply put, Jackie helped make our world a better place.”

Jackie began her extensive career in public service in 1986, working as a law clerk to the Honorable U.W. Clemon, the first African-American U.S. District Court Judge in Birmingham, Alabama. She graduated from Harvard Law School, where she served as a general editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, and graduated with distinction from Oberlin College.  While at Oberlin, Berrien served an internship with the NAACP.

Jackie published numerous articles exploring the interconnections between race and gender, including “A Civil Liberties Imperative: Promoting Quality Education for All African-American Children” in the Columbia Teachers College Record (Summer 1993).  Her article, “Pregnancy and Drug Use: The Dangerous and Unequal Use of Punitive Measures,” in the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism (Spring 1990), was among the first literature examining the criminal prosecution of expectant mothers for substance abuse.

The Lawyers’ Committee extends its heartfelt condolences to Jacqueline Berrien’s husband, Peter Williams; her family; fellow church members; former colleagues and loved ones.


The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. We celebrated our 50th anniversary in 2013 and continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and community development; employment; voting; education; environmental justice; and criminal justice.  For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.





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