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Luther Adams

civil rights activist, historian, and legal scholar. Mary Frances Berry was born in Nashville, Tennessee, one of three children of George and Frances Berry. Like many African Americans, Berry experienced racial segregation as well as poverty while growing up in the South. As children she and her older brother George were placed in an orphanage during a period of economic crisis.

At Nashville's segregated Pearl High School, Berry was encouraged by the educator Minerva Hawkins to apply herself seriously to her studies. After graduation Berry attended Fisk University and then transferred to Howard University, where she earned a BA in philosophy in 1961 and an MA in history in 1962. She continued her studies at the University of Michigan, where she earned a PhD in U.S. and constitutional history and a doctorate of jurisprudence.

As a scholar, Berry's numerous publications include Black Resistance White Law ...

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Peter Glenshaw

The second of three children born to George and Frances Berry, Mary Frances Berry was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and experienced the racial discrimination of the segregated South. Economic struggle led her parents to send her and her older brother George Jr. to an orphanage temporarily, a period Berry likened to a “horror story.”

Despite her considerable intellect, Berry remained an indifferent student until gaining the attention and support of Minerva Hawkins, one of only three black teachers at Nashville's segregated Pearl High School. According to Berry, Hawkins exhorted Berry to develop her intellectual gifts, telling her that she could do “all the things I would have done if it had been possible for me.” Thus heartened, Berry applied herself to her studies and gained a deep interest in a broad range of subjects. She attended Nashville's Fisk University studying philosophy history and chemistry before transferring ...

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John R. Howard

scholar and civil rights advocate, was born in Nashville, Tennessee, to George Berry, a laborer, and Frances Southall, a beautician. She was the middle child between two brothers. After attending public schools in Nashville, she entered Howard University where she received her bachelor of arts degree in 1961 and her master of arts degree in 1962. During the 1962–1963 academic year she was a teaching fellow at Howard University, after which she moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to pursue a doctorate in history at the University of Michigan. She served as a teaching assistant during the 1965–1966 academic year and, after completing work on her PhD in 1966, was appointed assistant professor in the Department of History. In 1968 she was promoted to associate professor. Simultaneously she pursued the study of law and in 1970 received her JD degree from the University of Michigan Law ...

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Genna Rae McNeil

Mary Frances Berry has to her credit a number of impressive firsts. She was the first African American woman to serve as chancellor of a major research university and the first African American woman to hold the post of the nation’s chief educational officer. Her 1984 lawsuit against President Ronald Reagan to reaffirm the independence of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, as well as her sit-in, arrest, and incarceration in protest of racial injustice in South Africa, established a place for her in the national and international press. In the twenty-first century, Berry raised the ire of Republicans and achieved a new level of prominence among defenders of democracy when she led the independent U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in an investigation of the “Voting Irregularities in Florida during the 2000 Presidential Election.”

Berry s place in history however was created not only by significant appointments and political activism ...

Article

Joseph Wilson and David Addams

a central figure in the civil rights and human rights movement in the United States as an activist, attorney, and scholar. Born in New York City in 1940, William Haywood Burns helped integrate the swimming pool in Peekskill, New York, at fifteen years of age and was a leader in the struggle for human rights and civil rights over the next four decades. He graduated from Harvard College in 1962. As a law student at Yale University, he participated in the 1964 Freedom Summer in Mississippi. He already had authored The Voices of Negro Protest (1963), which critiqued the leadership and mass character of the civil rights movement, and throughout his career he contributed chapters to other books. He was assistant counsel to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in the late 1960s. Later he served as general counsel to Martin Luther King Jr.'s ...

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Christopher Berkeley

legal scholar and novelist, was born Stephen Lisle Carter in Washington, D.C., the second of five children to Lisle C. Carter Jr., a lawyer and educator, and Emily E. Carter, who worked as an assistant to the head of the National Urban Coalition. Carter attended public schools in Washington, New York City, and Ithaca, New York, before matriculating at Stanford University, from which he graduated in 1976. He then proceeded to Yale Law School, receiving his JD in 1979.

For the next two years Carter completed clerkships for Judge Spottswood W. Robinson III of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (1979–1980), and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (1980–1981). He was admitted to the District of Columbia bar in 1981 and worked briefly as an associate at the Washington, D.C law firm of Shea and Gardner before ...

Article

Nigerian human rights advocate and legal scholar, was born on 22 April 1938 in Ondo, a city in southwestern Nigeria. His father, Saheed Tugbobo Fawehinmi, was a wealthy businessman who promoted political reforms in the colonial administration, such as lower taxes for poor people. Fawehinmi shared his father’s Muslim faith, which was highly unusual in Ondo. Lisa Alujanu Fawehinmi, one of his grandfathers, had fought the British occupation of Ondo in the late nineteenth century. Fawehinmi’s predisposition for rebellion thus made him part of family tradition. Gani, as he was known, impressed his teachers at various primary and secondary schools. He attended Ansar-Ud-Deen primary school from 1947 to 1953 and the Victory College secondary school in Ikare under the noted teacher Reverend Akinrele His headmaster at Victory College wrote a letter to Fawehinmi s father telling him that his son would make an outstanding attorney Fawehinmi became known as ...

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Benjamin Letzler

law professor, dean, and diplomat, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, to the Reverend Clarence Clyde Ferguson Sr. and Georgeva Ferguson. After a childhood in Baltimore he served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1946, earning a Bronze Star, before attending Ohio State University on a football scholarship. He soon left the football squad to focus on his academic work, completing his AB cum laude in two and a half years. Ferguson earned his LLB cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1951, one of three black members of the class.

After a year as a teaching fellow at Harvard Law School and a year in private practice in New York, Ferguson served as assistant general counsel to the Moreland Act Commission to Investigate Harness Racing. Ferguson married the artist and sculptor Dolores Zimmerman in 1954 After her death in the late ...

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Sarah B. Buchanan

, Togolese filmmaker and international legal adviser for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, was born Ayele Folly-Reimann on 31 March 1954 in Lomé, Togo, to Amah Folly (a producer at the French world-music recording company OCORA and then at Radio France International) and Juliette Reimann. She has one sister. Folly studied law in Paris at the Université de Paris II–Panthéon-Assas. She began her career as an international legal adviser for UNESCO in 1981.

In the early 1990s Folly began making films In spired by Sarah Maldoror a French Guadeloupean filmmaker and Safi Faye a Senegalese filmmaker and ethnologist whom she has called des militantes dont le travail cinématographique est inspirant car il interroge l essence des problématiques des Africaines militants whose cinematographic work is inspiring because it interrogates the heart of the problems confronting African women Folly turned to film because she considers it similar to ...

Article

William Henry Hastie's father, a pension clerk, and his mother, a teacher, taught him to oppose racial discrimination. The family moved from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Hastie was born, to Washington, D.C., in 1916. Hastie was valedictorian at Dunbar High School, one of the leading African American secondary schools in the country. He was senior class president at Amherst College in 1925, and graduated as valedictorian again. After teaching for two years, he returned to school and earned a law degree from Harvard University in 1930.

Hastie practiced law in Washington with his father, fighting university segregation. At night, he taught at Howard University Law School. Among his students, many of whom played important roles in the Civil Rights Movement, was Thurgood Marshall, who became the first African American justice on the United States Supreme Court. From 1933 to 1937 Hastie was assistant ...

Article

Peter Wallenstein

civil rights attorney, law school professor, and federal judge, was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, the son of Roberta Childs, a teacher, and William Henry Hastie, a clerk in the U.S. Pension Office (now the Veterans Administration). He was a superb student and athlete. His father's transfer to Washington, D.C., in 1916 permitted Hastie to attend the nation's best black secondary school, the Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, from which he graduated as valedictorian in 1921. He attended Amherst College, where he majored in mathematics and graduated in 1925, valedictorian, Phi Beta Kappa, and magna cum laude. After teaching for two years in Bordentown, New Jersey, he studied law at Harvard University, where one instructor adopted the custom of saying after asking a question of the class, “Mr. Hastie, give them the answer” (Ware, 30). He worked on the Law Review and earned an ...

Article

Carolyn Wedin

legal educator, civil rights advocate, judge, and governor. William Henry Hastie was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, the only child of a middle-class, college-educated black couple, Roberta Childs and William Henry Hastie, who moved to Washington, D.C., to give their son a better education. There the young Hastie graduated from Dunbar High School in 1921 and entered Amherst College in Massachusetts, where he ran track and graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude in 1925.

Giving up opportunities to study at Oxford University or the University of Paris, Hastie instead taught for two years at the New Jersey Manual Training and Industrial School for Colored Youth. In 1927 he continued his education at Harvard Law School, studying under the future Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter and earning his bachelor of laws (LLB) degree in 1930 Hastie moved to Washington D C and both worked ...

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Mary Krane Derr

lawyer and educator, was born in rural Lone Tree, Okmulgee County, eastern Oklahoma, near Tulsa. Known as Faye to family and friends, she was the great-granddaughter of slaves and the youngest of thirteen children born to farmers Albert and Erma Hill. Faye grew up in the Baptist Church and remained within that congregation. An excellent student and avid reader, she attended Eram Grade School and in 1973 became the fourth child from her family to be selected as valedictorian at the local Morris High School.

In 1977 Hill earned her B.S. in psychology with honors from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. On a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) scholarship, she left Oklahoma for the vastly different environment of Yale University Law School, where many classmates had enjoyed considerable financial and social advantages from birth. Graduating with her J.D. in 1980 Hill felt no ...

Article

Kate Tuttle

At Charles Hamilton Houston's 1950 memorial service, his cousin, federal judge William H. Hastie, eulogized him as “the Moses of our journey.” Referring to the hard-won victory against segregation, Houston's protégé and successor as National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chief counsel, Thurgood Marshall, described him as “the engineer of it all.” In his work at both the NAACP and at Howard University Law School, which, according to historian Richard Kluger, Houston made into “a living laboratory where civil-rights law was invented,” Houston was one of the most influential American lawyers of the twentieth century.

Houston was born in Washington, D.C., the only child of William and Mary Houston, and was raised in an atmosphere of racial and family pride. He graduated from the M Street School, the most academically rigorous black high school in the nation, and in 1911 entered ...

Article

Thomas E. Carney

attorney and civil rights activist. Born in Washington, D.C., Charles Hamilton Houston was the son of Mary Hamilton Houston and William LePre Houston, an attorney in Washington. The young Houston graduated from M Street High School and received his bachelor's degree in 1915 from Amherst College, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. For two years after graduating he taught English at Howard University, and in 1917 he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He was sent to Europe but arrived just months before the armistice that ended World War I.

Houston left the military in 1918 and thereafter applied and was admitted to Harvard Law School. Houston was an outstanding student. He studied under Professor (later U.S. Supreme Court Justice) Felix Frankfurter and became the first African American editor of the Harvard Law Review. He received his bachelor of law degree in 1922 and ...

Article

Matthew J. Smalarz

was born in Merced, California. Originally from Arkansas and Mississippi, his parents, Charles and Willie Mae Ogletree, migrated to central California and worked as seasonal workers in the San Joaquin Valley's cotton, almond, and peach fields in the 1950s and 1960s. Ogletree and his family lived in impoverished circumstances in South Merced and relied on welfare assistance programs. Economic and residential segregation existed within Merced's town boundaries, with South Merced containing poor African American and Chicano households and North Merced comprising affluent, white residents, the town's commercial enterprises, and its educational entities. Although his parents lacked educational opportunities in the Jim Crow South in the 1930s and 1940s and socioeconomic mobility in California in the 1950s, they still encouraged Ogletree and his siblings to strive for educational advancement amid the structural obstacles surrounding them.

Performing well academically in high school Ogletree applied and gained admission to Stanford University just as ...

Article

Egyptian jurist, law professor, judge, and cabinet minister, was born in Alexandria on 11 August 1895. He was also known as an educationalist, a champion of the rule of law, a proponent of national independence and Arab solidarity, a leading proponent of the idea that Islam is the paramount characteristic of Arab and Egyptian civilization, and a proponent of the notion that Islam should be a guide for organizing laws and public institutions in the Arab world. His one daughter was Nadia al-Sanhuri (1935– ). Of modest background, he attended a traditional Islamic elementary school and a state secondary school operated by an Islamic foundation in Alexandria. In 1917 he graduated first in his class at the Sultanic Law School in Cairo (which became in 1925 the Law Faculty of King Fuʾad I University the Egyptian University He completed a doctorate in juridical sciences and a second doctorate ...