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Oliver Hill's Smaller Victories

Oliver W. Hill, the civil rights lawyer who died this week at the age of 100, is being remembered in obituaries for his role in the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, as well he should. But an article in Style Weekly, "Hill's Battlefield," from his hometown of Richmond, Va., depicts the long road of smaller victories that led Hill to the Supreme Court. Hill, it notes, began using the courts to promote civil rights well before Brown:

"Rather than go after segregation wholesale, the team started small and built a framework of initial wins on related issues such as equality in teacher pay, equality in white and black school facilities, and equality of access for black students to graduate programs."

Richmond Assistant City Attorney Ramona L. Taylor, who helped edit Hill's autobiography, tells Style:

"Most people think the civil rights movement began in the '60s, but the civil rights movement was really a legal movement before that. Attorneys such as Hill were social engineers using the courts and the law as a way of redefining America."

Hill's legacy, suggests Style, is as much in the series of smaller victories that carried him to success in Brown as it is in the ultimate outcome.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on August 9, 2007 at 03:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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