We are happy to announce that James Williams, CDPL’s Racial Equity Coordinator, is the winner of the N.C. Advocates for Justice 2022 Annie Brown Kennedy Award. This award honors a commitment to acquiring full freedom for all citizens of North Carolina and exceptional advocacy that protects individual liberties. Its first recipient, in 2021, was former Chief Justice Cheri Beasley. James could not be a more deserving successor.
James retired in 2017 from his longtime job as Chief Public Defender for Orange and Chatham counties, but he continues to work tirelessly to advance racial equity in the criminal punishment system and in society at large. As chair of the N.C. Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Criminal Justice System, he spearheaded an ongoing campaign to rid North Carolina’s courthouses of Confederate monuments. He was also part of a successful push to remove the portrait of a notorious slave owner from a place of honor in the N.C. Supreme Court. In his role as chair of the Orange County Community Remembrance Coalition, he organizes regular events to educate the community about its legacy of racial terror and the ways that racist violence continues to be perpetuated. This summer, he is planning a large public screening of CDPL’s new film, Racist Roots.
This is just a small sampling of James’ ongoing work. Read his full bio here.