A. Leon Higginbotham Jr.: `No More Time for Foolishness'

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A. Leon Higginbotham Jr.: `No More Time For Foolishness'

These words by civil rights lawyer, judge, activist, and educator A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. who died of a stroke on Dec. 14, 1998, were written last year. They are the words of a man whose legal career spanned almost half a century. They are the words of a champion for human dignity who will be sorely missed.

Judge Higginbotham was the chief justice emeritus of the U.S. Court of Appeals, a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and the author of In the Matter of Color and Shades of Freedom. He graduated from Antioch College in 1949, and received his law degree from Yale in 1952.

Although he was a first-hand witness to and participant in many of the victories of the Civil Rights Movement, the recent attacks on affirmative action were very distressing to him. Below are feelings he expressed in his last article for this magazine:

"In December 1996, a few months after [the] Hopwood [case] was decided [and ended the affirmative action policies at Texas higher education institutions], I underwent the first of three open-heart surgeries. Late each evening, after my family and friends had left, I would slip in and out of consciousness and dream of a sign that I saw long ago on the bumper of a rickety cab in Lagos, Nigeria. …