Awards & Fellowships

Spingarn Medal

The Spingarn Medal is the NAACP highest honor, given annually to an individual 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 achievements. 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.

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.

Legal Awards

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.


W. E. B. Du Bois Public Policy Internship/Fellowship Program

The NAACP is in search of highly qualified and motivated individuals to serve as interns and fellows. These individuals will conduct sophisticated legislative and public policy research on some of the most pressing civil rights and social justice challenges facing our nation. This work is challenging, high stakes, and performed under an exacting standard.

Project assignments will touch upon all aspects of our social justice advocacy agenda, including but not limited to civil rights issues, criminal justice, economic development, education, environmental justice, health policy, international affairs, labor, voting rights, and youth engagement. Successful candidates should have a record of outstanding academic achievement, and must have the ability to manage complex projects. Read more on the W.E.B. Du Bois Fellowship and apply here.

Law Fellows Program

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. Contact the NAACP Legal Department for more information.