Barbara Arnwine Receives Gruber International Justice Prize

CLAREMONT, Calif. (July 15, 2011) — Scripps College alumna Barbara Arnwine ’73 has received a prestigious Gruber International Justice Prize for her excellence in defending and promoting civil rights and gender equity throughout the U.S.  She is one of five recipients who will share equally in the $500,000 unrestricted cash award.

“I am extremely grateful and humbled by this recognition,” says Arnwine.  “This award only makes me all the more determined to continue working in the pursuit of justice in the United States and worldwide.”

For more than 35 years, Arnwine has promoted equal justice for disadvantaged groups both domestically and internationally. As executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law since 1989, she led the effort to secure passage of what became the Civil Rights Act of 1991 and played a significant role in securing the 2006 Reauthorization of the Voting Act. Under her leadership, the Committee has become a powerful force for civil rights under law and a model for other NGOs seeking justice. She was largely responsible for the 1995 Conference on African American Women and the Law, which attracted over a thousand attendees.

Following thousands of complaints of racial intimidation and disenfranchisement in Florida during the 2000 presidential election, Arnwine became a leader in The Election Protection Program, which by 2008 was one of the largest pro bono programs in the nation. She supported the creation of the Disaster Victims’ Assistance project after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and helped prevent the eviction of more than 250,000 displaced families from hotels and shelters until alternative housing had been provided.

Internationally, Arnwine led an advance team of the South Africa Electoral Observers delegation in 1994. She has advocated on behalf of Haitian refugees and was involved in investigating conditions at Guantanamo Bay. She led a delegation to the UN’s 1995 Decade of Women Conference and NGO Forum in Beijing, where her efforts contributed to adoption of a platform for protecting women who face multiple forms of discrimination.

Scripps College recognized Arnwine as its Distinguished Alumna in 1997 for her many contributions to society.  In 2006, she returned to deliver the College’s commencement address.

Created in 2001, the Justice Prize is awarded annually to those who, often at great personal risk, fight for the Rule of Law. Twenty-two Prizes have been given in the past decade; 2011 recipients also include Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which struggles to provide human rights for the nation’s Arab citizens, the Center for Legal and Social Studies, which brings military personnel charged with human rights violations to justice, and the Kurdish Human Rights Project, which was founded in 1992 to protect the rights of all persons living in Kurdish regions. They will be honored during a ceremony on October 6, 2011, in Philadelphia.