From his own isolated school to the Supreme Court — Julius Chambers won in 1971


Editor’s Note: This article was first published in the Charlotte Observer newspaper on April 21, 1971.

No signature is displayed on archived newspaper pages. The author argues for the Swan v Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education’s racist elimination case and talks about Julius Chambers’ reaction to his legal victory in the United States Supreme Court.

Julius Chambers has been waiting for a long time

When Rev. Coleman Kelly first spoke to Julius Chambers about the Supreme Court’s decision in Charlotte’s school case on Tuesday, Chambers didn’t say a word.

So Kelly — the Minister of Chambers and a former member of the school board — tried again.

This time, the lawyer simply said, “That’s great.”

But later he admitted that he was “overjoyed” and to one of his associates-in a deliberately unmanageable way- “I think he knew that the decision was unanimous. The opinion was written by Berger. We sold the Chief Justice, “he said with a shy smile.

The long-awaited decision was made the day Chambers caught a cold a week ago. He spoke more calmly than usual, admitting that he might give up and go to the doctor.

In his office, telephone intercoms were constantly crowded with congratulatory calls and requests for exclusive interviews. By mid-afternoon, there were a total of about 50 calls. The office was quiet, but there were only three of the company’s seven lawyers in town.

Chambers complained about all the questions from the reporters and ridiculed a television reporter at the microphone around his neck, but he patiently answered their questions.

The Chamber of Commerce may have been waiting for this day longer than many thought. The case was officially initiated by the Swan v. Board of Education in 1964, but its roots date back to the high school days of lawyers.

His fourth grade in high school meant taking a bus to Troy — 24 miles round trip — where he was able to attend an integrated high school. Looking out the window, he saw a high school for white students. Black boys were not allowed in those schools. That year is 1953, which will be another year before the US Supreme Court ruled that “separations are not equal.”

Eight years later, he was elected one of the first two internships at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He has filed civil rights proceedings in Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.

Chambers said Tuesday that he had not yet considered the latest court that issued a groundbreaking ruling. Of course, groundbreaking decisions are made by interpretation. If this decision is used as a catalyst for racism in the north … it may be a landmark … but I haven’t seen the text. I don’t know if it will have that effect. “

Chambers argued that William Bouer, a fellow lawyer, an opponent of Chambers, and a member of the newly elected school board, called Tuesday a “dark day for America.”

“Today is a great day. The court has clarified how to do what blacks have struggled with for years … this is one of the greatest opportunities for blacks to achieve their goals. .. to enjoy the rights that most Americans have had for many years. “

But with victory, more work is brought.

This decision could also affect the Chambers proceedings in Winston Salem, Greenville, Wilson, and perhaps Wilmington. (This decision upheld that Judge James B. McMillan ordered bus students throughout the town to achieve racial balance.)

Chambers and his companies Chambers, Stein, Ferguson, and Lanning represent the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in 32 school separation proceedings in North Carolina.

“There are 20 or 25 school cases that must be heard by August,” Chambers said on Tuesday. “But listening to them isn’t really a problem. Finding someone to plan.”

Mr. Chambers said he wanted North Carolina educators to develop a plan to eliminate racial discrimination in the Charlotte case, but Dr. John A. Finger, a man who is willing to tackle controversial issues. I had to go all the way to Road Island to find out.

He said most people in the city and in the country wanted to comply with the law. “Now we hope that the community can work together to provide the right school system for our children.”

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