Sherrilyn Ifill: ‘There Is No Guarantee We Make It Out of This Period as a Democracy’

Produced by ‘The Argument’

Last month, Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted on all charges related to the shooting of two people at a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisc. Before, during and after the trial, journalists and pundits broke down the most sensational moments on the stand, and many tried to discern what Rittenhouse’s not-guilty decision meant about the country at large. People were eager to draw direct connections between the arguments used in court and the inequities that are seen in the country on a daily basis.

But is looking at the Rittenhouse trial and other high-profile cases really the best way to understand where we are as a nation?

[You can listen to this episode of “The Argument” on Apple, Spotify or Google or wherever you get your podcasts.]

This is a question that Sherrilyn Ifill has had to contend with during the nearly 10 years she’s led the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Ifill oversaw the LDF as they sued the Trump administration and as the battle over voting rights has escalated over the past four years.

Jane and Ifill discuss how the LDF has navigated the role of practicing law while advocatingpolitical movements in the country. Ifill also shares why she decided to step down from the LDF next April, and what she will be working on next.

Mentioned in this episode:

  • A Perilous Path: Talking Race, Inequality and the Law, published in 2018.

  • The LDF’s Statement on the Acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse published on Nov. 19, 2021.

(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.)

Credit…NAACP Legal Defense Fund

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“The Argument” is produced by Phoebe Lett, Elisa Gutierrez and Vishakha Darbha and edited by Anabel Bacon and Alison Bruzek; fact-checking by Andrea López-Cruzado; music and sound design by Isaac Jones; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.

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