Recently, the global human rights community experienced the loss of Oliver W. Hill. During his 100 years, Mr. Hill received many well-deserved awards including the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the highest awards of the ABA. He was perhaps best known for his inspiring role as co-lead counsel in the Prince Edward County, Virginia, school desegregation case, Davis v. County Board of Education, which the Supreme Court consolidated with three other cases in Brown v. Board of Education. For 80 of his 100 years, first as an activist and later as a lawyer, Mr. Hill fought to create a more civilized society based upon a “renaissance in human relations.” For 15 years, I was blessed to know him and came to call him mentor and, most importantly, friend. In his memory, and hopefully in his spirit, I offer these thoughts regarding some ways to achieve justice for all.
In Brown, the United States Supreme Court ruled that when a state segregates children in public schools solely on the basis of race, the state unconstitutionally deprives them of equal educational opportunities. For over 50 years, America has wrestled with how to desegregate public schools as a means to achieve equal educational opportunity. Segregated schools reflect a larger American dilemma: for many decades (often using American tax dollars), America’s political, business, religious, educational, and professional leaders have planned and implemented segregation. This article focuses only upon one aspect of America’s segregation problem: the conjoined twins of education and housing segregation.
Jonathan K. Stubbs, America’s Enduring Legacy: Segregated Housing and Segregated Schools, Minority Trial Lawyer, Winter 2008, at 1