Vanita Gupta NAACP award
Indian-American lawyer Vanita Gupta, the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights was honored as the recipient of the NAACP’s William Robert Ming Advocacy award during the annual NAACP convention in Baltimore.

“Deeply honored to receive the William R. Ming Award from NAACP. We have so much work ahead, together, in the fight for justice,” Gupta tweeted after receiving the award.

The 42-year-old Gupta began her tenure as the CEO of Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in June. President Obama appointed her as the principal deputy assistant attorney general and head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division in 2014, which she held until Trump’s swearing-in in January.

Gupta oversaw a wide range of criminal and civil enforcement efforts to ensure equal justice and equal opportunity during her tenure as the nation’s chief civil rights prosecutor. She focused on advancing constitutional policing and criminal justice reform, prosecuting hate crimes and human trafficking, promoting disability rights and protecting the rights of LGBTQ individuals, and ensuring voting rights for all.

She was previously a civil rights lawyer and the Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU, where she oversaw the ACLU’s national criminal justice reform efforts. Prior to that, she was Assistant Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Throughout her career, she has drawn support from a wide range of liberal and conservative activists, as well as law enforcement leaders, for building collaborative support and finding common ground on policing and criminal justice reform.

Gupta was born in the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania to Indian immigrant parents. She was a magna cum laude graduate of Yale University and New York University School of Law.

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 William Robert Ming displayed in his legal work for the NACCP.

Ming was a distinguished lawyer and professor at the Law Schools of Howard University and the University of Chicago and 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 and NAACP v. City of Jackson, Missouri.

NAACP interim president and CEO Derrick Johnson and general counsel for the organization Bradford Berry presented Gupta with the award.