Trailblazer for Justice Honoree
Eleanor Holmes Norton
Eleanor Holmes Norton life’s work personifies the goals and aspirations of the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice: to confront injustice with intellectual rigor, personal courage, and a profound sense of humanity.
Since 1990, as an elected Delegate to Congress representing the District of Columbia, she has, on behalf of the citizens of the District of Columbia, fought the defining grievance of the American Revolution: taxation without representation. The residents of the District of Columbia have no voting representative in Congress.
Norton’s work for full congressional voting representation and for full democracy for the people of the District of Columbia continues her lifelong struggle for universal human rights.
After graduating from Yale Law School in 1964, she served as an assistant legal director of the ACLU. In the early 1970s, New York City Mayor John Lindsay appointed her to head the New York City Human Rights Commission. There, she held the first hearings in the country on discrimination against women. Thereafter, President Jimmy Carter appointed her as the first female Chair of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. As Chair, she released the EEOC’s first regulations that identified sexual harassment as a form of sexual discrimination and a violation of federal civil rights law.
After graduating from Antioch College in Ohio, she simultaneously earned her law degree as well as a Masters degree in American Studies from Yale. Yale Law School has awarded her the Citation of Merit as Outstanding Alumna of Yale Law School, and Yale Graduate School has awarded her the Yale Wilbur Cross Medal as outstanding Alumna of the Graduate School, the highest awards conferred by each on alumnae. She is the recipient of more than 50 honorary degrees.
Norton has been recognized as one of the 100 most important women in America, and one of the most powerful women in Washington D.C.
Norton, who taught full time before being elected, continues as a tenured professor of law at Georgetown University.
Calling her his nemesis, Stephen Colbert has engaged in a spirited debate with Norton on the Colbert Report over her fight for representation for the District of Columbia.
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton on the Stephen Colbert Report