May 3-9, 2002
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Casteen discusses employee issues, academic mission
Gift to provide $5M for Arts Grounds
Elwood, key figure in U.Va.’s desegregation, dies
Center promotes value of politics and importance of civic-mindedness

Pedalin’ professor weaned himself from his wheels

Letters -- letter from Eugenio Schettini
Hot Links -- Office of the Architect
Graduate assistants receive teaching awards
Summer camps to keep kids busy
Politics 101: Gov. Warner addresses students
Elwood, key figure in U.Va.’s desegregation, dies
William Elwood
Photo by Michael Marshall
William A. Elwood poses in front of a scene from a 1934 film by Charles Hamilton Houston, seen doffing his hat, which Houston made to document inequities in the South’s segregated school systems. Houston is the central figure in a documentary Elwood produced that traces the legal campaign to destroy Jim Crow laws. The piece won the 1990 American Film Festival Award for Best Film on Black History.

Staff report

William A. Elwood, 70, longtime English professor and Arts & Sciences administrator who throughout his career tirelessly sought to end racial discrimination, died April 27 after a battle with cancer.

Elwood, who retired in 1996, worked both behind the scenes and on the front lines for civil rights causes locally and nationally. In the early 1990s, he worked closely with more than 200 students to produce an award-winning documentary film about the history of school desegregation, “The Road to Brown.”

A native of Evanston, Ill., Elwood was a graduate of Northwestern University and received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. After joining the U.Va. faculty in 1964, he helped recruit black students and faculty. In 1969 President Edgar F. Shannon Jr. appointed him as a special assistant to oversee programs to help African-American students have a smooth transition into the college experience here.

A Renaissance literature scholar, Elwood also wrote articles on such subjects as substandard housing and served with numerous community projects, including Madison House, the Charlottesville Social Development Commission and the Charlottesville Housing Improvement Program. As associate dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences for more than two decades, he was instrumental in establishing and strengthening African-American affairs programs and scholarly centers at the University.

With no formal filmmaking experience, he doggedly researched and personally helped to finance the 1990 public television documentary, “The Road to Brown,” out of a determination to reach a wide audience with an important little-known piece of civil rights history. The film documents the untold story of Charles Houston, a black, Harvard-trained lawyer who began fighting for equal rights in the 1930s but died before seeing some of his work result in the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education.

Elwood attributed his involvement in the civil rights movement to a growing personal awareness of racial bias in the 1950s and ’60s. In 1999 he was honored with the Charlottesville Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award.

He is survived by his wife Mary Ann Wilder Elwood; two sons, John Elwood of Dallas and James Elwood of Huntersville, N.C.; two sisters, and five grandchildren.
A memorial service was held April 30. The family requests that memorial contributions be made to the Legal Aid Justice Center, 617 W. Main St., Charlottesville 22901.


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