MAKERS Profile

Sherrilyn Ifill

President & Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense Fund

In this video

Tagged as

Sherrilyn Ifill is a civil rights lawyer who’s spent her career making sure black votes matter and fighting for a judicial system that is color blind. She litigated a voting rights case before the Supreme Court at the young age of 28 and today is the President of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Why She's a MAKER: Voting rights. Police brutality. Judicial ethics. The legacy of institutional racism. Many of the hot-button topics in debate today are issues Ifill has taken a lead on as the president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Her expertise in these areas makes her a go-to commentator on TV and a prominent voice in effecting change. (It's also a family trait: The late journalist Gwen Ifill is her cousin.) 

Nevertheless, She Persisted: After graduating from law school, Ifill was ready for the courts, but they weren't ready for her. "I didn't sound like what they expected. I didn't look the way they expected. So, I'd give the judges a minute... I could see the moment when it clicked and they were now paying attention to me."
 
Her Big Mission: Ifill sees her role at the NAACP as more than just a paycheck. "I've been given a window into seeing the fault lines, the parts of the democracy that are weak, and my job is to make them stronger."
 
Doing What's Right, Not What's Easy: Ifill doesn't shy away from the tough challenges. "We are undergoing tremendous change in the country. We have to be real grown-up citizens and figure out what our role will be moving this country forward. That's never fun. The civil rights movement started the same way. The country had to see itself."
 

More From Sherrilyn