Remarks by LSC Board Vice Chair Martha Minow | Shriver Center Equal Justice Award

Chicago, Illinois | Hyatt Regency
June 14, 2016

Thank you for this tremendous and indeed four dimensional honor!

Dimension one: to be here you all, with Venu whose words blow me away almost as much as does her work every day; with Debbie Chizewer, and John and the whole amazing team of the Shriver Center and its wonderful friends.

The second dimension is to be recognized by this organization. No group does better or more crucial work advancing justice for the most disadvantaged in this country. I think the combination of advocacy for individuals and policy work makes both stronger. The Center leverages the work by sharing research and knowledge of best practices through critical publications, by training efforts, and by effectively coordinating the movement using law to combat poverty and its repercussions on people's rights and dignity, all advancing the vision of a truly inspiring and great man. Sargent Shriver devoted his life to making justice. He also made it possible for so many others to serve and to struggle effectively against poverty and justice with the recognition of the equal human dignity of each person and the interdependence of us all.

The third dimension: following and joining my hero and friend, the incomparable John Levi. Tom Cole told me earlier today, you just can't say no to John. That is true! And he puts his persuasiveness to work drawing people of enormous talent like David Hoffman and Ron Flagg, bridging the political divide, getting bureaucratic wheels to move, and getting us all to dig deep in our pockets and our souls.   

And the fourth dimension is this chance to thank everyone here who is inspired to carry on Sargent Shriver's work. I thank all who provide legal services, advocacy, and policy work.

I thank the board members and supporters of the Center for your devotion and for coming to events like this one. 

I thank the clients who summon the courage to seek help and claim rights–rights to be safe from domestic violence; to obtain in-home healthcare even when the insurance company denies it; to stay in a secure home even when the landlord or mortgage company wrongly threatens eviction; to combat wage theft and intimidation at the workplace; to reunite families and yes, to separate them when necessary for safety from violence; and to say no, you can't, when bureaucrats or creditors or anyone neglects or tramples rights.

And I thank those who teach others to seek justice.

I am profoundly grateful for this opportunity to thank my parents, Jo and Newt Minow, and I am so happy Dad is here. Longtime supporters of the Shriver Center and indeed friends and allies of Sarge, the model and the encouragement of these two amazing people–otherwise known as Chicago treasures–make all the difference to me. I also thank John Levi's parents and family for helping to make the extraordinary tireless imaginative leader of LSC who makes it a privilege to defy the seeming constraints and advance access to justice.

I close by noting that the word "access" has its origins in Middle English where it meant approach: nearby; the modern definition means freedom or ability to use something. I salute all who work to make access more than getting near to justice–who make it possible for people to enact and receive justice.