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 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. The principal object of the NAACP is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of all minority group citizens. As part of its mission, the NAACP seeks to enforce federal, state, and local laws securing civil rights and to educate persons about their constitutional rights.

Throughout its history, the NAACP has provided attorneys the opportunity to make significant, historic contributions to the field of civil rights law. Past NAACP attorneys include, Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall, Constance Baker-Motely, Robert Carter and Nathaniel Jones. The NAACP hopes to inspire attorneys to enter the field of civil rights law and to provide broad exposure to various strategies utilized by grass roots civil rights organizations.

The NAACP Law Fellow Program is designed to give students who have completed at least one year of law school the opportunity to work for the summer at NAACP Headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland. The NAACP Law Fellow Program is made possible through the generous support of the Kellogg’s Corporate Citizenship Fund, which has funded the program since its inception in 2003. This year, the NAACP Law Fellow Program celebrates its 13th Anniversary.

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 13th year, we look forward to continuing and building upon our work growing the next generation of civil rights advocates.

Those selected for the program will:

  • Work with civil rights attorneys on relevant issues concerning economic justice, education, housing, voting rights and environmental justice;
  • Perform case investigation and assist with emerging litigation and administrative complaints;
  • Attend the NAACP National Convention and Continuing Legal Education Seminar in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
  • Examine and evaluate citizen complaints of civil rights violations; and
  • Interact with civil rights leaders and attorneys.

Contingent upon continued funding and sponsorship, Law Fellows will be selected based on a number of factors, including: interest in civil rights law, academic credentials, recommendations, and commitment to public interest law. Selected participants will be awarded a stipend of $6,000 to offset living and travel expenses while participating in the program. This stipend will be paid on a bi-weekly basis through our payroll system and is subject to applicable state, local, and federal taxes. Fellows will be responsible for securing their own housing.

Applications will be accepted beginning Friday, December 12, 2014 – Friday, January 30, 2015. Materials requested: Resume, Transcript, Cover Letter, Writing Sample and two (2) Letters of Recommendation via email to The Office of General Counsel at

Questions concerning the program should be directed to Anson Asaka, at, please use the subject line of 2015 Law Fellow Program.