Recipients of the Lawyers Club of San Diego Icon Award:
2020 Icon - Stacey Abrams
The Lawyers Club Icon Award, established in 2008, is given to an individual who epitomizes success and innovation and whose efforts leave a legacy. The Icon Award is earned by someone who shows exceptional achievement furthering the advancement of women in the law and society and honors those who have continued to make meritorious contributions to society throughout his/her/their life, and who share Lawyers Club’s values of justice, inclusion and progress.
Abrams exemplifies the mission of Lawyers Club and has shown exceptional achievement furthering advancement of women in law and society by paving the way for women, especially those of color, throughout her career. She became the first woman to lead either party in the Georgia General Assembly and the first African American of any gender to lead in the Georgia House of Representatives (2010), the first black woman to become the gubernatorial nominee for a major party in the United States as the Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia (2018), and the first African-American woman to give the rebuttal to the State of the Union address in 2019.
Those who drive change dare to be powerful, take action to clear obstacles, and motivate others to do the same in order to achieve results and change the status quo. The results of the election for Governor of Georgia defied historical voter turnout statistics. It tripled the participation of Latinos and Asian Americans, doubled the youth participation, and Abrams received the highest percentage of white voters recorded in Georgia since Bill Clinton. Abrams’ election accomplishments did not stop when she became the first African American woman candidate Instead, she continued to inspire voters to take action in record-breaking numbers.
Lawyers Club applauds Abrams’ commitment to fighting voter suppression and efforts to combat the indelible lack of access created by the fact that during the formative years of our nation only white male landowners were permitted to vote. This year marks a milestone anniversary for two Constitutional amendments that changed the landscape of the racial and gender makeup of citizens permitted to vote. Prior to 1870, states determined who was eligible to vote and generally limited the right to vote to only white male landowners. This remained the status quo until 1870 when the 15th Amendment afforded male citizens the right to vote regardless of race. However, women did not win the right to vote until 1920 when the 19th Amendment was ratified.
Now, nearly 150 years after ratification of the 15th Amendment and 100 years after the 19th Amendment, the battle continues. “In elections, our nation has fought a lifelong battle about who gets to have a say in the outcome and set the terms of the next battle,” Abrams wrote in her book Lead from the Outside. “Race, gender, and class have been constant markers of access beginning with the constitution.” To combat the indelible lack of access created by the fact that during the formative years of our nation only white male landowners were permitted to vote, in 2018, Abrams launched Fair Fight Action, an organization that advocates for free and fair elections across the country and brings awareness of election reform to the public.
“Silence is not only dangerous, it is corrosive,” Abrams has written. This innate defiance of inequitable norms is the very same trait that drove the founding mothers of Lawyers Club to make a reservation under a male colleague’s name at The Grant Grill, a local restaurant that displayed a plaque that openly announced “No Women before 3:00 p.m.” Abrams’ refusal to be silenced or restricted by her perceived gender and race limitations makes her an ideal choice for the Icon Award.
2018 Icon - Hon. Loretta Lynch
2017 Icon - Professor Anita Hill
2015 Icon - United States Senator Olympia Snowe (Ret.)
2014 Icon - Hon. Sandra Day O'Connor
2012 Icon - Justice Judith McConnell
2012 Icon - Hon. Lynn Schenk
2010 Icon - Betty Evans Boone
2008 Icon - Helen Thomas