Marlboro College

News Honorary Degree Citation

Nan Aron

Commencement home

You grew up in a family of social activists, hearing stories from your aunts of their experiences in the Civil Rights Movement. At Oberlin College—a legendary stop on the Underground Railroad—and at Case Western Reserve, you informed and honed your mind, intellectually strengthening yourself for the many battles that lay ahead.

Those battles began early. As a newly minted attorney with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, you took to court companies accused of race and sex discrimination. In your next job, with the American Civil Liberties Union, you sued state governments to improve the conditions of their prisons.

And then you turned 30.

That was the age at which, in 1979, you created an association of civil rights groups, public interest organizations and environmentalists, and named it the Alliance for Justice. The Alliance continues to thrive, with 35 employees and projects ranging from nonprofit advocacy workshops to efforts organizing college students to fight for social justice.

But it is the Alliance’s Judicial Selection Project, which you created in 1985, that has brought you, time and again, to the national stage. Under your leadership, the Judicial Selection Project helped derail the confirmation of a controversial Supreme Court nominee, and ensure the appointment of the first African American judge in the Fourth Circuit. Time and again you sally forth, plunging into battles you sometimes lose. But losing one battle only inspires you to try harder in the next.

One of your adversaries compares you to the Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae. The Washington Post says of you, “She has built a reputation for never giving in. Ever.”

Struggling against overwhelming odds and never giving in. Sounds familiar around here, doesn’t it? Your devotion to your ideals mirrors that of your father, Jerry, a staunch advocate for Marlboro College.

Nan Aron, you have a poster on the wall of your Alliance for Justice office that says: “Think one person can change the world? So do we.” For offering us an inspiring role model of that sentiment, we at Marlboro College salute you, and are pleased to confer upon you the degree

Doctor of Humane Letters, Honorary

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