The 100 Most Influential People of 2021
Rog and Bee Walker—INSTITUTE
By Bryan Stevenson
September 15, 2021 7:19 AM EDT

Sherrilyn Ifill is a dazzling intellectual with an uncommon ability to analyze and frame the urgent civil rights issues facing our nation. As president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, her extraordinary leadership on voting rights, police violence and the legacy of systemic racial injustice—and her powerful insights on what is required of a just democracy—distinguish her at a time when polarization and disinformation are creating unprecedented threats to equality in the U.S.

Sherrilyn’s advocacy creates paths for the unconvinced to understand things they have overlooked—and that may be the real genius of her leadership and skill. She is the rare strategic lawyer who has the ability to inspire, educate, and disassemble the distortions and misguided analyses that often paralyze policymakers.

While Sherrilyn follows in the footsteps of legendary predecessors Thurgood Marshall and Elaine Jones, she has forged her own path to improve the justice quotient in America at a critical moment when constitutional crises loom and civil rights are so imperiled.

Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of Just Mercy

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