On June 16, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs will present Bruce Kahn ’63 its Alfred McKenzie Award.
The award, established in 1994, is named for Alfred McKenzie a long-time Washington figure. During World War II, McKenzie left his entry-level position in the Government Printing Office (GPO) to join the Army Air Corps where he served with distinction as one of the famed Tuskegee Airmen. Returning to the GPO in 1946, McKenzie was assigned to the same low-level position he had held before his military service. He began to see fellow employees who were white and with less service time receive promotions. The discrimination was obvious. At that point he then began a career-long struggle to win fair employment treatment for all African American GPO employees.
Past recipients of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee McKenzie Award include the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Urban League, Washington Urban League and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).
The presentation will take place at the Grand Hyatt Hotel at Metro Center in downtown DC. The event is called the Wiley A. Branton Awards Luncheon. Wiley A. Branton was a famous civil rights attorney who represented the Little Rock Nine when then Governor Faubus blocked them from entering Central High School in 1957. Wiley Branton’s life was devoted to such cases. This year’s recipients of the Branton Award are Kim Keenan, General Counsel of the NAACP and a founding board member of the Equal Rights Center; and George Ruttinger, senior partner at Crowell and Moring, the immediate past co-chair of the Lawyers’ Committee Board of Directors, and for 15 years the General Counsel of the Equal Rights Center.
To say the least, receiving the McKenzie Award is very humbling and most gratifying. Those feelings are greatly intensified by the privilege of sharing the day with Kim and George.