Blog | Trailblazer Legend Award Recognizes President Carter’s Judicial Appointments

In the White House, President Jimmy Carter appointed 57 minority judges and 41 female judges to the federal judiciary, more than all previous presidents combined. But he recognized at the time that, when it came to diversifying judicial appointments, his efforts were “just a beginning.”   Motivated by President Carter’s actions and words, the Just the Beginning Foundation was born in 1992 to bring together diverse federal judges and encourage minority students and those from other underrepresented groups to pursue careers in law and on the bench.

In celebration of JTBF’s 20 years dedicated to increasing racial diversity in the legal profession, judges representing the organization, including three President Carter appointed during his administration—judges Horace T. Ward, Phyllis Kravitch, and Nathanial R. Jones—presented him  with the 2012 Trailblazer Legend award during a ceremony today at The Carter Center in Atlanta.

“It all began with you,” the Hon. Ann Claire Williams said as she presented President Carter with the award.  “You created unprecedented opportunities for your appointees and many like me who benefitted from your legacy and stand on the shoulders of these giants. Our nation has surely benefitted from having a judiciary that reflects those that we serve—all Americans whatever their race or sex who seek equal justice under law.”

Accepting the award, President Carter said the credit for trailblazing a path to a more diverse judiciary goes to those he appointed: “Their judicial judgment, their integrity and their commitment to the finest aspects of our nation’s moral and legal values have been so sterling that they brought credit to me.”

He praised the work of JTBF while echoing the words that inspired it. “We’re still at the beginning,” he said, “of bringing true equality of treatment under the law, in economic status, and in occupation of high places in the Senate and Congress to women and people of color.  We still have a long way to go.”

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