The Sidney Hillman Foundation presented its inaugural George Barrett Award to Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, in May. Named in honor of George Barrett ’57, a crusading Nashville attorney known for his role in the civil rights and labor movements and other important social causes throughout his life, the award will go each year to an attorney whose work exemplifies Barrett’s public spirit.
The Barrett Award complements the Hillman Foundation’s famed Hillman Prizes, awarded each year since 1950 for journalism in the public interest, and the Sol Stetin Award for Labor History, which honors the former president of the Textile Workers Union of America.
Stevenson is an acclaimed public interest lawyer under whose leadership EJI has successfully challenged excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerated innocent death row prisoners, confronted abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aided children prosecuted as adults. He has successfully argued several cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, including a recent ruling banning mandatory life-without-parole sentences for children 17 or younger as unconstitutional.
“My father would be so pleased that an award in his name is going to Bryan Stevenson,” said Barrett’s daughter, Mary Barrett Brewer ’86. “Like my father, Bryan has spent his career advocating for the disadvantaged against the powerful and the unjust.”