Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education , Vol. 21, No. 18
Attorney fought Mississippi desegregation case for 30 years
Growing up poor as one of 12 children in Columbia, Miss., Alvin O. Chambliss Jr. sometimes went hungry but never lost his appetite for knowledge.
"I can say that some of the times during my high school years I was hungry," recalled Chambliss, today a distinguished visiting professor at Indiana University Bloomington. "We didn't starve, but we were hungry. It was a natural to go farther, because it was a sacrifice just to get out of high school."
With the support of his family, particularly his grandmother, he earned degrees from two historically Black colleges - Jackson State University and the Howard University School of Law - and the University of California at Berkeley.
Best known as "the last original civil rights attorney in America," Chambliss is awaiting a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on a certiorari filing on the case he's been connected with for nearly 30 years, Ayers v. Barbour, and the legal battle over support for Mississippi's historically Black colleges.
At IU Bloomington, Chambliss will teach and work with faculty in IU's nationally recognized School of Education and in the Department of African American and African Diaspora studies. He also wants to share with another generation of young people his experiences with several historic figures in the civil rights movement.
"Professor Chambliss has a rich background in civil rights, poverty law and civil liberties, having argued before the U.S. Supreme Court and various federal circuit courts of appeals and U.S. district courts," said Frank Motley, IU associate vice chancellor for academic support. "Alvin is uniquely situated and qualified to share with IU students the nuts and bolts issues in education as well as social welfare and civil rights. …