A big congrats to Al McSurely, local civil rights lawyer and long-time friend of the Institute for Southern Studies, for recently winning the national NAACP's William Robert Ming Advocacy Award, the highest honor given to an attorney by the civil rights organization.

McSurely has been in the thick of the struggle for a progressive South since the 1950s, and especially since 1967, when -- after he moved to Appalachia to organize poor whites in the mountains -- he and his wife were charged by the state of Kentucky for sedition, after local sheriffs raided their house and found radical literature. McSurely and his wife sued, and later won what would become a historic 4th Amendment case about "unreasonable search and seizure."

Al has never rested on his laurels, though -- he went back to law school at the age of 51, and quickly emerged as a leading civil and labor rights attorney, especially for African-American workers in North Carolina. I first met Al when I was helping mobilize support for housekeepers organizing at UNC-Chapel Hill in the early 1990s; Al won a big settlement case for the group, which is now part of UE Local 150/N.C. Public Service Workers Union. Other victories for state and city employees followed.

Al has kept his eyes on the prize of a more just and fair society, and I doubt he'll ever give up. A true inspiration to upcoming lawyers and others in search of a better world. You can read more about his remarkable life's work and the award here and here.