Awards & Fellowships

Spingarn Medal

The Spingarn Medal is the NAACP's highest honor, given annually to a man or woman of African descent and American citizenship for outstanding acheivement. First instituted in 1914 by the late J.E. Spingarn--then NAACP Chairman of the Board of Directors-- the gold medal to was awarded for the highest or noblest achievement by an American Negro during the preceding year or years. Read More or view the complete list of past Spingarn honorees.

Thalheimer Award

The Thalheimer Award is the NAACP's top award given to branches and units for outstanding acheivements. The honors have been given annually since 1944 from a grant from Dr. Ross Thalheimer, a Johns Hopkins University instructor in philosophy and a University of Washington instructor in philosophy and Sociology. He was also President of the Thalheimer Foundation, Inc. Download the applicaiton instructions here.

Montague Cobb Award

Upon recommendation of the NAACP National Health Committee and approval of the NAACP National Board, the Montague Cobb Health Advocacy award was established to honor individuals and organizations that have made a significant impact in the field of health. This award shall be given annually in recognition of the legacy of Dr. W. Montague Cobb, who served as the President of the NAACP from 1976 to 1983.  You may download the nomination form here.

NAACP General Counsel Kim M. Keenan and
2012 Ming Award Recipient, H. Brice Cunningham.

Legal Awards

The NAACP has a number of annual awards to honor attorneys or units for outstanding civil rights legal achievements. Read more.

Foot Soldier In the Sands Award

Each year at the National Convention, the NAACP Legal Department honors attorneys who have gone above and beyond the call of duty on behalf of the Association and its civil rights agenda. This award is given to attorneys for their generous contribution of legal expertise to the NAACP on a pro bono basis. The honorees are typically nominated by an NAACP Unit or by the NAACP Legal, where the attorney has assisted the NAACP on a National Level.

Juanita Jackson Mitchell Award for Legal Activism

Mrs. Juanita Jackson Mitchell, the first African American woman admitted to the Maryland bar, was a teacher and civil rights activist who served the NAACP as president of the Baltimore City Branch, where she chaired the legal redress committee and founded the NAACP's Youth Program. She fought discrimination in the courts and in the community. She served as counsel in suits to eliminate segregation in municipal recreation facilities, restaurants and public schools in Baltimore City and throughout Maryland. She championed Baltimore school desegregation, making Maryland the first southern state to integrate its school system after the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown versus Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.

Each year, the NAACP awards the Juanita Jackson Mitchell Legal Activism Award to an NAACP Unit for exemplary legal redress committee activities.

William Robert Ming Advocacy Award

William Robert Ming was born on May 7, 1911 in Chicago, Illinois. He received a PhD degree in 1931 and his J.D. degree in 1933 from the University of Chicago in Illinois. In addition to being a distinguished lawyer and professor at the Law Schools of Howard University and University of Chicago, Ming was an active social action leader in the struggle for human equality. He was one of the architects of the strategy leading to the historic decision in Brown v. Board of Education, and other landmark decisions, including NAACP v. Alabama, Sweatt v. Painter, Mclaurin v. Oklahoma, Sipuel v. Board of Regents, Ward v. Texas, NAACP v. City of Jackson, Missouri ex rd Gaines v. Canada, and Fourth District Committee of the Virginia State Bar v. S.W. Tucker.

The Ming Award was created by the NAACP National Board of Directors in April 1974 and is awarded annually to a lawyer who exemplifies the spirit of financial and personal sacrifice that Mr. Ming displayed in his legal work for the NAACP.

Law Fellows Program

The NAACP Law Fellow Program was created with the vision of developing future generations of civil rights attorneys. Since its inception in 2003, the Law Fellow Program has been funded by generous grants from the Kellogg’s Corporate Citizenship Fund.

Each year, through a rigorous selection process, the NAACP National Legal Department chooses talented students from law schools across the nation to participate in the summer Law Fellow Program. While these students are from diverse backgrounds, they share a common interest in civil rights law.

Law Fellows will work in the NAACP National Legal Department at NAACP headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland. Fellows will participate in projects involving legal research, writing, and NAACP initiatives such as criminal justice, education, housing, voting and civil rights, redistricting, and environmental justice. Additionally, Fellows will moderate panels at the NAACP Lawyers’ Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Seminar at the NAACP National Convention.

NAACP General Counsel Kim M. Keenan states, “the Law Fellow Program continues to provide law students with first-hand exposure to every aspect of civil rights advocacy and many facets of the legal profession.  Through working with the Legal Department and networking with lawyers in many different legal arenas, our summer experience is an excellent opportunity for law students to see the multiple roles lawyers play in shaping American society.  Many of our Law Fellows find this valuable opportunity expands what they believe is possible for their legal careers.  One 2011 Law Fellow participant emphasized the program’s importance to her: ‘I met lawyers and judges and participated in discussions with practitioners about law and policy.  I’ve gained a new and different perspective that has made a tremendous contribution to my personal and professional growth.’  In our 12th year, we look forward to continuing and building upon our work growing the next generation of civil rights advocates.”

We are no longer accepting applications for the 2014 Law Fellowship Program. Please check this page in the fall for the 2015 submission dates. 
Other questions concerning the Law Fellows Program ONLY, should be directed to Anson Asaka, at, please use the subject line “Law Fellow Program.”  PLEASE DO NOT SUBMIT REQUESTS FOR LEGAL ASSISTANCE.