Herman Bell received the Arthur Kinoy Award at the 2018 #Law4thePeople Convention. Listen and read his acceptance speech below:
This is Herman. I wish I could be there with you tonight to celebrate all the recipients this year but unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, I am unable to share space with you all. In lieu of being there, I want to send a brief message:
Firstly, I want to congratulate all of the other recipients for their well-deserved honor tonight. I also want to thank the National Lawyers Guild for its recognition and for its work over many decades against racist injustice. It is a particular privilege to receive an award that honors Arthur Kinoy whose work set such an important example for fighting injustice and inequality.
I am indebted to many of the NLG lawyers for the various kinds of legal representation you have rendered me over the long years of my imprisonment as well as for the anti-racist work you have engaged in over these years and decades. There are too many lawyers for me to name tonight who have worked with me along the way. And as a person on parole, I continue to rely on an incredible network of you all. Many of you are there tonight, and you know who you are. Ha! And the most worthless of my lawyers is even getting his own award tonight, but I won’t name any names…
Jokes aside, and in all honesty, many of you have not just been my lawyers and a part of community of solid supporters over the years, but also cherished friends. I am deeply grateful for all of you who have come together this evening to make this recognition happen, and more importantly, for all of the support you have shown me for so long. In moving forward, though, I will continue to rely on your support.
I also hope that I can make my own contribution on the outside to a more just world. No doubt, I will be looking to many of you for guidance and as collaborators. I also recognize, and I think it needs to be said, that this isn’t and can’t be just about me. Mass incarceration is a huge problem in this country that we need to address, and a lot of you in this room have been working tirelessly on this issue. Your work is appreciated, and I don’t want to over-indulge in the attention focused on me. This is about all of us, and I’m humbled by this recognition.
Let us hope and work towards welcoming many more home. Thank you.
Above photo: Brian Shih