In Black Leadership' Aims To Preserve Lessons Taught By Key Civil
6 , 2000 -- It has been nearly 50 years since the
Supreme Courtıs 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka,
Kansas outlawed racial segregation in public schools and helped
to usher in an era of social transformation. In the years that followed,
many leaders emerged from the black community locally, regionally
and nationally to reshape American society during what has become
known as the civil rights era.
in Black Leadership," a new oral history project co-sponsored by
the University of Virginiaıs Institute for Public History and the
Darden School of Graduate Business Administration, is reaching back
to examine the nature of that leadership. The project will bring
key civil rights figures to Charlottesville over the new few years,
where they will participate in public forums and two-hour videotaped
interviews conducted by U.Va. history professor Julian Bond, who
is himself a long-time civil rights leader and national chair of
the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
first visits of the series, featuring Virginia noted civil rights
lawyers Oliver Hill and Henry Marsh, will take place Sept. 13 and
14, and will include a public forum Sept. 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the
Law Schoolıs Caplin Auditorium. The session, during which Bond,
law professor Michael Klarman and audience members will ask questions,
is free and open to the public.
who served for many years in the Georgia legislature, said "Explorations
in Black Leadership" is unique in its ambition.
am not aware of any similar project whose reach is as broad," he
said. "There are projects with a more narrow focus, but none I know
of with this reach.
project represents an attempt to examine the lives and achievements
of a wide variety of black leadership in education, civil rights,
business and to try to determine from in-depth study the forces
which shaped them. It promises to give us invaluable resources that
will be useful for generations yet to come."
project has two key objectives, said Phyllis Leffler, history professor
and director of the Institute for Public History.
most obvious aspect is to preserve the history of the era, expanding
the historic record. Oliver Hill, who won the Presidential Medal
of Freedom in 1999, is now 93. "We think he has a fascinating story
to tell," Leffler said. "He got involved, and took the risks necessary
that a black man had to take to enter the bar in Virginia.
have to understand the impact these people have had in American
preserving history, though, is the inquiry into the nature of leadership
itself. "A lot of people wonder what has happened to our leaders,
black and non-black, in America," Leffler said.
study will seek answers to many questions. What have been the criteria
that allowed some African-Americans to rise to the top of their
professions? What qualities have contributed to their success? How
do people become leaders, and what constitutes effective leadership?
sociological and political considerations, those questions also
are of increasing importance in the business world of shifting demographics.
School dean Edward A. Snyder made the decision to co-sponsor the
program "in a microsecond," he said. "Darden's mission is developing
people who create, transform and lead successful organizations.
To do that effectively, you have to understand the power of compelling
ideas, the endurance of strong convictions and the high price of
of the principals in this series, by personifying these ideals,
advances the Darden mission."
archives and tapes of the series will be useful to scholars, businesses,
communities and public schools, and could form the basis for new
courses at the University, Leffler said. One possibility is a book
project or even a documentary film tied to the 50th anniversary
of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision in 2004.
for future visits are Elaine Jones, president and director of the
NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (Nov. 1); civil rights lawyer
Julius Chambers, chancellor of North Carolina Central University
(Nov. 8-9); and Mary Futrell, dean of the Graduate School of Education
and Human Development at George Washington University and former
president of both the Virginia Education Association and National
Education Association (Nov. 29-30).
organizers are lining up additional guests, and the effort could
go on for several years, Leffler said.
sketches of the first guests scheduled to participate in the "Explorations
in Black Leadership" series, who will take part in a public question-and-answer
session Sept. 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the Law Schoolıs Caplin Auditorium:
W. HILL SR.
White Hill was born in Richmond in 1907. He was an undergraduate
at Howard University, when his uncle, who was a lawyer, died. Hillıs
aunt gave him her husbandıs law books. "I was a happy-go-lucky sophomore.
Then I read the Constitution and the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments
and realized that Congress had given us rights which the Supreme
Court had taken away from us. I knew right then that I wanted to
become a lawyer and end legalized segregation." Under the tutelage
of Charles Hamilton Houston, dean of Howard Law School, Hill graduated
in 1993, second in his class behind his friend, Thurgood Marshall.
His landmark cases involved matters such as desegregation on buses
and trains; free bus transportation for black public school children;
the right of black citizens to serve on juries and participate in
primary elections; and the desegregation of public assembly and
of recreational facilities. He served as director of the Virginia
chapter of the NAACP for 20 years. During this time, he and a team
of 13 lawyers filed more civil rights cases in Virginia than were
filed in any other Southern state. His most famous case, Davis v.
Prince Edward County Schools, became part of the Brown v. Board
of Education decision. In 1942, Hill founded the Old Dominion Bar
Association. In 1948, he was the first black elected to Richmond
City Council since the Reconstruction era. At age 91 he retired
from his Richmond law firm, Hill, Tucker and Marsh, after practicing
law for nearly 60 years.
HENRY L. MARSH
a child, Henry Marsh had to walk five miles each way to a one-room
school for black children. At his school, a single teacher instructed
70 students, while whites attended a large, modern school to which
they were transported by bus. This experience, in addition to inspiration
from his heroes including Oliver Hill, Thurgood Marshall and his
father contributed to Marshıs dedication to the struggle for racial
justice. He attended Virginia Union University, MORE 4 where he
served as president of the student government. He then went on to
receive a law degree from Howard University in 1959. After serving
in the Army, Marsh began his legal career in May 1961, joining the
Richmond firm now known as Hill, Tucker and Marsh. Serving as counsel
for the NAACP, he fought Richmondıs segregationist school policies.
In 1966, Marsh successfully ran for a seat on the Richmond City
Council. On March 1, 1977, Henry Marsh was elected the first African
American mayor of Richmond. In this capacity, he led a coalition
of five black council members who made historic changes to the city,
including the adoption of a human rights ordinance, the appointment
of many African Americans to boards and commissions, and the revitalization
of downtown Richmond. In 1991, Henry Marsh was elected to the Senate
of Virginia for the 16th District and he continues to hold that
Carol Wood, (804) 924-7116