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They came from all over to welcome Vernon Jordan and to honor Eleanor Holmes Norton and Irving S. Shapiro

Symbolically, the selection of the two individuals to receive the National Urban League's 1980 Equal Opportunity Day Award has much to say about the different routes that must be traversed if equality of opportunity is to be finally achieved in our country. The awards went to Irving S. Shapiro, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of one of the nation's largest industrial giants employing thousands of workers, and Eleanor Holmes Norton, Chair of the government agency charged with enforcing Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which prohibits job discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Each was honored for a longstanding commitment toward equal opportunity exhibited over a period of years, and for their effectiveness in implementing that commitment. Mr. Shapiro accomplished this through the leadership he has given to equal opportunity efforts within his own company, E.I. duPont de Nemours & Co., and through his spirited advocacy of the principle of equal opportunity in the public arena. Ms. Norton accomplished this through her life-long dedication to the Civil Rights Movement and more recently through the vigorous and imaginative leadership she provided an almost moribund agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

For the National Urban League, the Equal Opportunity Day Award is the highest mark of esteem it can present to an individual. The Award was created for the purpose of calling the nation's attention to the positive benefits that flow from equal opportunity, while at the same time reminding it that total equality of opportunity has not yet been achieved. At the same time, the Award traditionally pays homage to two individuals who stand in the front ranks of those who strive for equal opportunity. 

The presentation of the Award to Mr. Shapiro and Ms. Norton took place on the evening of November 20th, at the 24th Annual Equal Opportunity Day Dinner, attended by some 2,500 persons.

[[caption]] Vernon Jordan, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Irving S. Shapiro [[/caption]]

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