Leaders in the Court and Community: Z. Alexander Looby, Avon N. Williams, Jr., and the Legal Fight for Civil Rights in Tennessee, 1940-1970
Sarvis, Will, The Journal of African American History
Z. Alexander Looby (1899-1972) and Avon N. Williams, Jr. (1921-1994) were the most prominent civil rights attorneys working in Tennessee during the post-World War II period. They filed dozens of lawsuits pertaining to school desegregation, racial discrimination in employment and public accommodations, and other areas. Looby and Williams's work in school desegregation cases alone encompassed every major case in the state (with the exception of Northcross v. Board of Education), and entered the highest realms of legal activity. Federal judges at the circuit, appeals, and U.S. Supreme Court levels cited and considered many of their cases as the post-Brown v. Board of Education (1954) litigation world unfolded. Looby and Williams also followed their civil rights work into the political world--Looby as Nashville city councilman and Williams as state senator--where they became part of the first major resurgence of black lawmakers in Tennessee since Reconstruction. As Professor Bobby L. Lovett argued, electoral poli tics became the next arena in the fight for equal rights, despite suggestions in the mass media from the early 1970s that the Civil Rights Movement ended when sit-ins, mass marches, and freedom rides were no longer the dominant strategy. (1) In this sense, Looby and Williams set important examples by extending their legal skills beyond the courtroom and into legislative bodies. But more fundamentally, Looby and Williams's civil rights work in the legal and political arenas made them among the most important and widely recognized leaders in Nashville's African American community, and beyond. In addition to legal and political activities, they served their community in numerous other ways that included the churches, schools, and civic organizations. (2) Looby and Williams countered a deeply imbedded tradition in this regard, for prior to their work, many (perhaps most) whites and African Americans alike held little respect for black attorneys in general. For Looby and Williams to emerge as prominent community l eaders presented a impressive example to the contrary, to say the least.
AFRICAN AMERICAN ATTORNEYS AND LEGAL ASPECTS OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT
Many historians have tended to neglect the legal aspects of the Civil Rights Movement, when in fact, litigation and other matters related to the law were often crucial determinants of success or failure. For example, the legendary Montgomery, Alabama, Bus Boycott (1955-56) involved absolutely indispensable legal work that fundamentally influenced the final outcome of that historic and symbolic event. (3) In contrast, an absence of legal help often proved disastrous for civil rights activists, particularly when local and state authorities passed discriminatory laws, issued injunctions against activists, sanctioned massive arrests, and otherwise attempted to enforce segregation or disrupt organized protests. (4) As legal scholars Donald Barnett King and Charles W. Quick observed in 1965, "Both positively and negatively, [law] has been instrumental in defining the rights of the Negro in almost every realm of life. (5) Many scholars have almost completely ignored the leadership role of African American attorneys within their immediate communities.
The scholarship has also tended to remain rooted in an earlier, disparaging view of black lawyers, who were unfairly caught in a vicious cycle during the Jim Crow era. Before the mid-1940s, these attorneys struggled for respect against the odds of discriminatory legal education, lack of esteem in the black community, inadmissibility to bar associations, shortage of honorable clients, and mistreatment at the hands of racist judges and court officials. African Americans also suffered discrimination in law school admissions. If they managed to earn a law degree, they immediately encountered further discrimination in the legal system. Since a racist and predominantly white society favored white lawyers in the courtroom, many African Americans were disinclined to hire lawyers of their own race. White clients were even less likely to hire black attorneys. Not eligible to join bar associations organized by white attorneys, black lawyers did not enjoy professional relationships and the exchange of important informati on with their white counterparts--and thus experienced an additional hindrance to executing their duties effectively. All of these circumstances tended to keep black lawyers impoverished, deprived of clients, and relegated to handling only the most disagreeable cases arising from habitual criminals and organized crime--which, in turn, hurt their reputations and handicapped them from entering other areas of law. Many black law school graduates quit the profession during the first months or years of practice. (6)
Exacerbating these conditions were critics who accused black lawyers of opportunism and preoccupation with personal or professional ambition. In 1934 Carter C. Woodson pointed out that, "The Negro lawyer is often severely criticized for his lack of interest in social uplift," and for the perception that they tended "to live on the community but [did] not live with it." (7) Even before and during the early 1930s, however, there were exceptions (such as Brown W. Payne of West Virginia) and indications that a younger generation of African American lawyers would follow Charles Hamilton Houston's charge to use law to improve life for blacks. Others, denied the opportunity to use their legal skills in court, served their communities in other ways (often in leadership roles) in the churches, fraternal organizations, and various social organizations, such as the Urban League, Masons, Odd Fellows, NAACP, and YMCA. (8) But given their professional skills, knowledge of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, black att orneys were poised to spearhead the legal challenge to legal segregation. "Though laboring under a cloud of doubt, black lawyers' efforts to dismantle the apartheid system in America became their special obligation," wrote J. Clay Smith, Jr. "They were eager to assume the lead in civil rights litigation, even without significant financial support." (9) Finally, as Judith Kilpatrick observed of pre-1950 black attorneys practicing in Arkansas,
Although these lawyers personally were ambitious men, many recognized that their future was tied to that of all African-Americans, and they worked to expand political and educational opportunities for the entire group in the midst of difficult times. Not all African-American lawyers were heroes, but in each generation a few stood at the forefront of efforts to improve the lot of all African-American citizens. (10)
As Carter G. Woodson and others noted, the 1930s showed signs that black lawyers holding idealistic, social reform views were beginning to emerge. There was no more stellar example of this new generation of attorneys than Z. Alexander Looby, who worked in Tennessee, where black lawyers were sorely needed and had only practiced irregularly during previous decades. (11)
SOCIOECONOMIC RELATIONS WITHIN AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITIES
Many black attorneys, including Looby and Avon Williams, were active in their churches. Williams was a practicing Presbyterian, and Looby served as a vestryman, senior warden, and lay reader for the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. (12) During the late 1970s, when Williams pondered the future of race relations in the United States, he asked, "[C]an we apply Christianity? Can we apply the American concept of equal justice under the law?" (13) Williams's own philosophy reflected a Christ-emulating perspective on interracial strife: "You can't keep on smiling at a person and not evoke a smile. You can't keep on loving a person and not evoke love. But hate doesn't have to evoke hate ... if you love you never accept hate. You never let hate evoke a similar response where you're concerned...." (14) African American ministers, in turn, steered many clients with legal problems to black lawyers such as Looby and Williams. Richard H. Dinkins, who joined the Williams law firm in the late 1970s (and became partner in 1981) , saw black ministers refer many black victims of police brutality to Looby, Williams, and other black attorneys. These African American ministers often testified in cases involving their parishioners. Also, as Dinkins recalled, "I can say, over the period I have been involved, by and large, there has not been a church effort independent of any effort by the lawyers ... in the school desegregation cases." (15)
Just as the legal and religious worlds intricately overlapped in the black community, so too did socioeconomic status as manifested within and outside of various civil rights organizations. While Marxist scholars of the 1940s emphasized the class differences and antagonisms among African Americans, Swedish scholar Gunnar Myrdal saw comparatively less class differentiation compared to white American society. In gathering information for his famous study An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy, published in 1944, Myrdal observed less upper class arrogance and greater intra-class interaction within the black community. (16) Certainly such an observation would be logically consistent with a segregated society. Black professionals provided services to the black masses, who also patronized black businesses; and all African Americans suffered discrimination in a racist society. This sort of interdependence among the social classes continued into the late twentieth century. Lower- and working-clas s African Americans remained, to a great degree, the client base for black attorneys. 'Trust is what we have in the absence of knowledge," Richard Dinkins observed. "In placing their trust in black lawyers, first and foremost, they placed trust in the legal system as a vehicle of change...then they placed their personal trust in black lawyers." (17) Nashville attorney George E. Barrett, who first became acquainted with Looby and Williams while still in law school, believed "they were appreciated on all levels of the African American community, not just the middle and upper class." (18) Like most civil rights lawyers of the period, Looby and Williams were heavily involved with the NAACP. Thus, despite the common characterization of the NAACP as middle- and upper-class--dominated, it remains central for understanding the work of attorneys and others fighting for black civil rights.
THE NAACP AND LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
In 1909 the NAACP developed as a biracial organization out of the Niagara Movement, which began some years before when W. E. B. Du Bois, William Monroe Trotter, and several other younger black leaders grew disenchanted with Booker T. Washington's accommodationist approach to interracial relations. The NAACP sponsored litigation to challenge racially discriminatory laws and practices in the courts and soon developed a formal, bureaucratic structure with a national headquarters based in New York City and fledgling local branches in various cities. In 1934 Charles Hamilton Houston--the great legal scholar, law professor, and Dean at Howard Law School--became director of the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund (LDF). Houston thereafter shaped the organization's legal strategies in accordance with his philosophy of using law for purposes of "social engineering." (19) Houston's approach built upon the original thrust of black lawyers' activities from the 1840s--that of emancipating African Americans first from slavery, then from the virtual slavery of Jim Crow and legal segregation. (20) Houston's philosophy was to have far-reaching consequences for other black lawyers waging the legal fight for civil rights. As Houston's biographer Genna Rae McNeil pointed out, Houston believed that "the law could be used to promote fundamental social change and that it was an instrument available to a minority even when that minority was without access to the ordinary weapons of democracy...." Charles Houston held a respected position of leadership among blacks during the 1930s and 1940s. His ability to educate and inspire lawyers and lay people, respectively, to work as social engineers and to pool their resources to seek enforcement of rights through the courts was of particular historical significance. (21)
Houston strongly influenced Thurgood Marshall when the latter attended Howard Law School, and by October 1936 Marshall had joined the NAACP's legal staff. (22) From the 1930s to 1950s, Houston, Marshall, and an increasing number of black and white lawyers cooperating with the NAACP/LDF in a wide variety of locales plotted a careful strategy to defeat legal segregation. In general, the LDF focused on destroying the legal basis for the "separate but equal" doctrine put forward in the U.S. Supreme Court's Plessy v. Ferguson decision (1896). These LDF lawyers challenged salary discrepancies between black and white public school teachers, racial discrimination in higher education, the exclusion of African Americans from jury duty, and black disfranchisement in the southern states. (23) The LDF achieved a victorious climax in 1954 with the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision, declaring legal segregation in public education unconstitutional. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court did not order the im mediate desegregation of public schools in Brown II (1955), and this allowed obstructionist local school boards and cooperating circuit courts to delay integration seemingly (to many at the time) indefinitely. Out of this impatience grew other approaches to pursue equal rights; and these tactics, campaigns, and activities became the modern Civil Rights Movement. While many of these activities were not covered by the mainstream media, black civil rights attorneys and their legal campaigns attracted wide and favorable coverage in African American newspapers.
ROLE OF THE AFRICAN AMERICAN PRESS
The power of the black press greatly contributed to the growing influence of the NAACP. Black newspapers were vital organs for disseminating information and news about the NAACP's activities to a community that segregation and racism had helped to make all the more cohesive. (24) As one scholar of the black press in the South declared, "Traditionally, black newspapers were passed from family to family and read aloud in barber shops, pool halls, and informal civic and religious gatherings." (25) Gunnar Myrdal observed that during the 1940s,
The Negro press, which is reaching ever deeper down into the Negro masses, has, as one of its chief aims, to give a national account of the injustices against Negroes and of the accomplishments and aspirations of Negroes. Its existence, its popular spread, and its content are a testimony of Negro unrest. Its [cumulative] effect in spurring race consciousness must be tremendous. (26)
Between 1910 and 1930, among the various black newspapers published in Tennessee, the Nashville Globe enjoyed the widest circulation. The Chattanooga Observer, Knoxville's East Tennessee News, and (by the 1960s) the Memphis Tri-State Defender also had significant numbers of subscribers and addressed issues such as needed school improvements, voter enfranchisement, and voter registration. (27) The Nashville Globe, in particular, promoted black collective interests. "The Globe recognized the inferior socioeconomic status of black Americans, but rejected the ideas of racial inferiority and dependence upon white paternalism," wrote Lester C. Lamon. "Their tone was aggressive, and they stressed the potential strength of the black population rather than the moral and economic weakness [and] placed its emphasis on economic growth and black business development." (28) Anyone reading the Globe or other black newspapers was aware of the important work that NAACP lawyers (black and white) were doing for black civil righ ts. (29) African Americans had been following Thurgood Marshall's progress in the courts for nearly twenty years by the time he made the cover of Time magazine in 1955.
Certainly African Americans all over the nation, reading black newspapers that subscribed to the National Negro Press Association wire service, kept up with Marshall's work. But as this case study of Tennessee illustrates, they also followed the local attorneys in their local communities with, if anything, even closer attention. As a local Nashville journalist observed in 1961, "So far as local people are concerned he [Looby] is far more important than people like Thurgood Marshall and Reverend Martin Luther King because 'Looby stays here." (30) A Fisk University professor told this same reporter, "It's seldom you see Mr. Looby walking anywhere in the neighborhood that there aren't at least two or three children tagging after him," and "You know how kids are, they mimic their heroes." (31)
THE NASHVILLE TRADITION OF CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVISM
Beyond their own native ability, superior education, hard work, courage, and idealistic vision for equal rights, several important factors contributed to the rise of Looby and Williams as community leaders. Their home base of Nashville had a strong and substantial black middle class and several institutions of higher learning, including the elite Fisk University, Meharry Medical College, the American Baptist Theological Seminary, and Tennessee State University (formerly Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State Normal School). (32) Most middle-class blacks in Nashville understood the importance of legal work in the fight for civil rights, recognized Looby and Williams as among the local champions in this struggle, and responded with financial and moral support. Black Nashville's social atmosphere, economic circumstances, and educational facilities also fostered the development of important, nationally recognized civil rights leaders, including James Bevel, John Lewis, James Lawson, and Diane Nash Bevel. The ir civil rights organizing culminated in the formation of the Nashville Student Movement, lunch counter sit-ins, and the rescuing and perpetuating of the Freedom Rides begun in May 1961 by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). (33) Moreover, the Tennessee chapters of the NAACP were particularly strong in the period from 1940 to 1970. Indeed, CORE organizers experienced markedly little success in Tennessee mainly because of the prevailing strength of the local NAACP branches. (34) These circumstances provided a propitious arena for attorney Z. Alexander Looby to begin his work.
LOOBY AND THE FOUNDATIONS FOR THE FIGHT
Zephaniah Alexander Looby had a very remarkable life, even aside from his amazing civil rights accomplishments in Tennessee. Looby was born on the island of Antigua, in the British West Indies in 1899. Looby's mother died when he was a young boy, and his father died when he was a teenager. Thus began many years of struggle to survive on his own. At fifteen, Looby joined the crew of a whaling vessel headed for the United States, but quickly jumped ship at New Bedford, Massachusetts. In the U.S. over the next few years he worked at a number of odd jobs: in a yam mill, a restaurant, a bakery--but he also educated himself in his spare time through continuous reading. Even as a boy in Antigua, he loved attending the local magistrate court and listening to the lawyers and judges. Very early on he fixed his ambitions on becoming an attorney himself. (35)
Somehow Looby managed to enroll at Howard University in Washington, DC, and earned his A.B. there in 1922. In 1925 he earned his law degree from Columbia University, and then went on to New York University, where he earned his doctorate of law in 1926, an uncommon level of achievement for any lawyer, particularly for an African American, at that time. Looby accepted an offer to become an associate professor of economics at Fisk University, and arrived in Nashville in 1926. In July 1928 he passed the Tennessee bar exam, and proceeded to establish his law practice. He tried living in Memphis for three years, but could not tolerate Edward Hull "Boss" Crump's dictatorial rule and control over that city. Crump used patronage power, election manipulation, and sometimes violent intimidation to dominate Memphis politics, and eventually political affairs throughout the state. Crump's influence did not decline until after the 1948 election, when Estes Kefauver and others successfully challenged his power. (36) In any c ase, Memphis was unattractive to Looby as a place to conduct his law practice, so he moved back to Nashville. In the early 1930s there were only a few dozen black lawyers practicing in the South, and Looby soon became one of those attorneys associated with the NAACP and focusing on civil rights litigation. (37)
Obviously, many whites in the South did not welcome black lawyers, whose very presence challenged racist stereotypes. Looby's ability to quote Shakespeare and other modern and classical authors particularly rankled some whites. (38) As mentioned above, this was at a time when black lawyers held, at best, ambivalent roles in their own communities. But just as Looby had pressed himself to earn an outstanding education, he now showed the same dynamism in his legal work for his black clients. In 1932 he also founded the ABA-accredited Kent College of Law in Nashville, a night school for African American men and women. The Nashville World suggested at the time that it was the first of its kind south of Washington, DC (alluding to Howard University Law School). However, Kent College of Law followed Central Tennessee College of Law, established in Nashville in 1879; and Lane College of Law, opened in Jackson, Tennessee, in 1900. Kent College of Law operated with American Bar Association sanction until 1941, when it closed for unknown reasons. (39) But, Looby was soon thrust away from academic law and legal education into the vortex of real world litigation.
Few civil rights cases in the immediate postwar period loom more importantly than the successful defense of African American residents of Columbia, Tennessee, following the first outbreak of postwar racial violence. The trouble began in February 1946 when two World War II veterans, one black and one white, got into a fist fight. The trouble soon spread, however, and a white mob gathered to ransack Columbia's black residential section and business district. African Americans armed themselves for the confrontation and warned whites to stay out of their neighborhood. During the night of February 25th the area was especially dark, for residents had extinguished all their lights and shot out the street lights in an effort to retain the defensive advantage. It was this shooting out of the street lights that attracted the attention of the police, and four white policemen, ignoring black residents' warnings, entered the neighborhood. Residents opened fire and wounded all four, and one quite seriously. A general melee followed, and Governor Jim Nance McCord called out state national guard units to restore order. (40) Eventually, the police arrested and charged twenty-five blacks with various crimes related to the violence.
Looby and other attorneys successfully argued the cases for twenty-three of the defendants before all-white juries, and won acquittals in each case. Looby even helped protect Thurgood Marshall during a life-threatening episode after the trial's end, when white racists attempted to ambush Marshall.41 In the latter stages of the trial, Looby expressed his view of the role of black lawyers: 'This nation cannot survive half slave and half free, and the Negro lawyers of the country must dedicate themselves to the task of eliminating such a condition." (42)
The Columbia cases probably gained the most media attention of any that Looby handled, and certainly many prominent people deeply appreciated his efforts. In December 1946 the nationally respected black newspaper the Chicago Defender selected Looby for its "Honor Roll of Democracy. (43) Charles Hamilton Houston, one of the most esteemed African American attorneys in American history, nominated Looby as his preferred choice for the NAACP's prestigious Spingarn Award. "Z. A. Looby gets my preference because he lives and practices in Tennessee," declared Houston. And because Looby "was the first on the scene of the massacre, had the responsibility of living with the case as local counsel and is the man constantly exposed to any local reprisals." (44) In 1947 in The Crisis, the NAACP's official publication, J. Randolph Fisher commended Looby. "Here certainly is a leader of uncommon distinction, a genuinely praiseworthy personality. He is innately kind, genial, considerate of everyone's right to be heard; broadmin ded, devoid of 'side."' Fisher concluded that Looby was a "scholar, gentleman, advocate" who had "become one of the truly distinguished leaders of these postwar United States." (45) Certainly Nashville's African American community recognized Looby's key role in the defense of the black residents, and praised him as a local hero. In December 1946, more than 300 citizens gathered to hear Nashville's Rev. Calvin Lockridge lecture about the NAACP's ongoing civil rights activities, and at Rev. Lockridge's side sat his guest of honor, Z. Alexander Looby. (46)
Black church members had a varying degree of understanding and appreciation for the legal technicalities of Looby's work, and yet beyond such specialized knowledge there was likely a near-universal recognition that Looby was fighting for the collective advancement of African Americans. In 1949 an anonymous writer for the Church Service Directory and News Journal, published in Nashville, commented,
In our midst we are fortunate to have one whose civil interest and marked ability rates him among the Nation's leading citizens. He has no peers as a race man and his victories as an attorney are inspiring to a group struggling to take its place in the sun. . . . Mr. Looby's name has [come] to mean to Negroes everywhere, a symbol of a fighting, relentless, stalwart giant of character in the struggle for human rights for all mankind. (47)
The postwar decade became the most glorious years of public recognition for African American lawyers, particularly in black communities. As historian Adam Fairclough noted, during the years from 1946 to 1956, "black lawyers were slayers of dragons, Davids who killed Goliaths." (48) Writing of this era, social scientist G. Franklin Edwards concluded that most of the seventy-two black attorneys he surveyed were motivated by service to the black community. African American lawyers had gained pride and independence with the coming of more equitable legal fees, greater trust from the communities, and fairer treatment in white-dominated courts. (49) Edwards concluded, "The fight which Negro lawyers have spearheaded for the expansion of civil rights for the Negro minority has been dramatic in character. The conception of the Negro lawyer as a champion of the group, reinforced in recent years by the dramatic successes in the Supreme Court, has done much to create a new image of the Negro's place in law." (50)
Without question, by the late 1940s Looby was "Mr. Civil Rights" in Nashville and beyond. Little wonder that, a few years after the Columbia trials, another African American attorney interested in civil rights would seek Looby out and join his practice. This was Avon N. Williams, Jr., who was Thurgood Marshall's first cousin. Marshall was an early influence on Williams's chosen profession. (51) In 1951 Looby and Robert Lillard, a lawyer and former fireman, won Nashville city council seats. Looby, a Republican, kept his city council seat until advanced age and failing health forced him to step down in 1971. Looby also served on the NAACP Board of Directors, 1953-1954 and 1956-1962. So, with Looby now devoting much of his time to his NAACP and political duties, the civil rights legal battle in Tennessee benefited from the addition of Avon Williams to Looby's law firm.
In 1965 Wayne Whitt, reporter for the Nashville Tennessean, wrote that Looby was "regarded as one of the most dedicated and sincere men in the local government." (52) Many people praised Looby as a civil rights leader and teacher, and toward the end of his life they called him the "dean" of black lawyers and recognized that he had become legendary for these efforts in the area of civil rights. (53) As Williams himself later expressed it, Looby was "the greatest lawyer in Tennessee, who happened to be black...." (54)
AVON WILLIAMS AND THE NEW CIVIL RIGHTS AGENDA
Avon N. Williams, Jr., began practicing law in 1949, filed his first civil rights lawsuit in 1951, and was thus poised to ride the huge wave of litigation that followed the Brown v. Board of Education decision (1954). (55) In September 1955, shortly after the Brown ruling, Looby and Williams filed the Kelley v. Board of Education of Nashville suit that became the most protracted school desegregation litigation in Tennessee. (56) It spanned thirty years and encompassed initial and revised school desegregation plans and the entire "busing" controversy. The suit began when Williams was still Looby's junior law partner, and ended when attorney Richard H. Dinkins was Williams's junior law partner. Federal judges who sat during the first hearings retired before the final deliberations were concluded. During one of the interim trials in May 1980, U.S. District Judge Thomas A. Wiseman, Jr., felt compelled to recite "the tortuous twenty-five-year history of desegregation efforts in Metropolitan Nashville" as a necessa ry prologue to the latest findings in Kelley. (57) In the meanwhile, the Nashville legal team pursued other public school desegregation cases from one end of the state to the other. (58)
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement began to grow more visible and active in the South, and the NAACP began providing legal advice and services to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Again mirroring the national scene, a similar dynamic developed in Nashville, where Looby and Williams provided legal services to the Reverend Kelly Miller Smith, who led the Nashville Christian Leadership Conference (NCLC), the local affiliate of the SCLC. (59)
The NCLC operated mostly out of Reverend Smith's First Baptist Church, then located on 8th Street in downtown Nashville. Initially, the NCLC concentrated on registering African Americans to vote. By 1959 the activists in NCLC had switched their focus to desegregating downtown restaurants. Their plans actually preceded the well-known February 1960 lunch counter sit-in of Greensboro, North Carolina. In Nashville, Smith and others involved with NCLC helped to raise funds to publicize and otherwise support college students sitting in and boycotting local businesses. One remarkable aspect of the Nashville sit-ins was the broad-based support that the students received from the black community. Lawyers from the Looby and Williams law firm and others provided legal support, and Looby served as primary counsel. (60) Black professionals raised funds for bail money and other expenses, but just as importantly, offered a great deal of moral support. (61) Vivian Henderson, a Fisk University economics professor and chairman of the executive committee of the Nashville branch of the NAACP, declared that, "The entire community has rallied to the students and their cause. Every Negro lawyer in Nashville offered his services for their defense. Every Negro minister is in back of them." (62) Such community involvement contributed to the superb organization and discipline that characterized the Nashville sit-ins. Among others, Looby and Williams regularly advised Jamye C. Williams of the NAACP Youth Council regarding student participation. (63) As Avon Williams recalled, "We did not as lawyers ... encourage or urge those black students to fight back. On the contrary, we urged them to stay within the law and we represented them in the courts and urged them to utilize the courts to redress their grievances within the framework of the Constitution of the United States." (64) Enemies of the NCLC's efforts recognized Looby's role as lead attorney, and in April 1960 several criminals (who were never apprehended) exploded a large bomb that se riously damaged Looby's home and two others, and shattered dozens of windows in the surrounding area. Fortunately, no one was killed or injured. (65)
Ironically, the attempted assassination of Looby only solidified his role as civil rights leader. Leo Lillard, a Tennessee State University student during the Nashville sit-ins, remembered that the bombing "worked to the benefit of the movement, because once you attack Looby--a pillar of the community, a councilman, a professional--what that did was send a signal to Nashville as a whole that no longer is it going to be a student-only movement." (66) The Associate Press carried the story of the attack and as a result, the news was spread all over the nation and beyond. During the spring and summer of 1960, in addition to rebuilding their house, Looby and his wife Grafta Mosby Looby tried to answer the numerous telegrams and letters of sympathy (some containing checks) that poured into their mailbox from Kenya, Nigeria, Switzerland, at least twenty states, and all over Tennessee. Senator Albert Gore, Sr., sent his best wishes, as did many ministers and rabbis. (67) Perhaps the most wonderful tribute honoring Lo oby and what he stood for in this moment of tribulation came the day after the bombing, when Looby attended a gathering at Fisk University to hear the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Over 4,000 people in the audience gave Looby a prolonged, standing ovation, and Looby--usually a composed, self-possessed man--broke down in tears. (68) In the end, the NCLCs actions resulted in desegregating seven restaurants, a first for a large southern city. (69) About a year later, in an interview with a white reporter, Looby was quoted as saying, "I am not the leader of the Negro people. The people know where they want to go. I am merely part of a team that helps them choose the right road. . . . You ask me, what do I want for my people. My answer is, what do you want for yours?" (70)
Early in 1963 Rev. Smith sent letters to the owners of dozens of Nashville motels and hotels praising them for their practices of non-discrimination. At the same time, however, he launched "Operation Open City," an effort to make Nashville "a beloved community" and a "city without a color line." (71) Rev. Smith and NCLC secretary Andrew White sent Looby and Williams $500 in April 1963 with the following note:
Although our financial campaign is not over and our receipts are falling considerably short of the anticipated goal, we did not feel that we should delay in sending some initial payment to you. We do not know what your fees are, but we felt that this check could at least serve as evidence of our appreciation and our recognition of indebtedness. We still await any statement which you may send.
There is no way for us to adequately express our gratitude for the service you are rendering. (72)
Apparently, Smith and the NCLC never stopped waiting for that statement of legal fees. In addition to the sit-ins and school desegregation cases, Looby and Williams won many other civil rights cases in the courts, involving discrimination in employment, housing, and other areas. (73)
UNIVERSITY MERGER LANDMARK
One of Avon Williams's most significant legal victories was in obtaining the merger of University of Tennessee-Nashville with historically black Tennessee State University (TSU). The Geier v. University of Tennessee case began in 1968 when Rita Sanders filed suit seeking an injunction to prevent UT-Nashville from expanding. The expansion, the suit alleged, would perpetuate and strengthen a dual system of higher education in the state, and TSU would remain predominantly black. (74) During the early 1970s, however, TSU supporters formed Tennesseans for Justice in Higher Education (TJHE), and began to lobby against merging TSU into the University of Tennessee system. TJHE members in a 1972 position paper expressed a point of view that went well beyond the Nashville scene. "The TSU plan hits at the heart of the national black community's interests," they declared. "It is in keeping with all the other integration plans which destroy black educational resources and leadership and do not replace them." (75) In some ways, many African Americans had held these concerns from the time of the Brown ruling in 1954. (76)
In the wake of the Civil Rights-Black Power Movement, many African Americans had come to appreciate the central role of using the courts to shape the social and political system. What the NAACP attorneys had known all along had now become more widely understood. The TJHE writers themselves revealed this when they insisted that their vision for TSU's future become the reality: "This must mean proportionate representation of blacks at all levels of higher education in Tennessee, including students, faculty, administrators and [on] governing boards. In addition, it must mean doing all things legal and just toward rightening the wrongs which segregation has inflicted upon black people and black institutions." (77)
This passion to preserve TSU's traditions had great emotional appeal, and in the end the federal circuit court indeed found strong logical and legal reasons for protecting TSU. Historically, the state of Tennessee had operated TSU and the UT system as part of its planned segregation of higher education. The court found that the state and University of Tennessee had failed to end this segregated system after 1954, and therefore ordered University of Tennessee to relinquish its Nashville campus to TSU. It was, Williams reflected, "the first time in America that a significant white institution of higher learning was ordered to be absorbed by a predominantly black institution of higher education under the leadership and guidance of the black President and his predominantly black faculty and staff." (78) In the final decision on the merger in 1984, Judge Thomas A. Wiseman, Jr., wrote that, "The ultimate goal is not any ideal ratio or mix of black and white students or faculty. The goal is a system of higher educat ion in Tennessee tax-supported colleges and universities in which race is irrelevant, in which equal protection and equal application of the laws is a reality. (79) Two years later officials changed the name of the TSU downtown campus, and today it bears the name of its most prominent legal advocate--the Avon Williams Campus of Tennessee State University.
In the early 1970s legal scholar Kenneth Tollett urged black lawyers to remember their loyalty to the black community and to avoid the monetary lure of the legal profession. Tollet argued that, "Commitment and knowledge combined sustain the assurance and unpretentious dedication to the realization of economic, political, and social justice in the black community." (80) Without question, Looby and Williams had such knowledge and commitment. In typical laudatory fashion, concerted city council and state senate efforts gathered together to name, in Nashville, a street and a library after Looby and a university campus after Williams--in other words, the treatment usually reserved for outstanding white citizens.
African American attorneys often worked in obscurity and ignominy throughout much of the Jim Crow era. In the 1930s, however, idealistic lawyers committed to black social advancement began to change this reality and image. Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall led the effort nationally, and relied on numerous local attorneys working with the NAACP to help them in various states, such as Looby and Williams in Tennessee. As black newspapers lauded African American lawyers working for civil rights, African Americans throughout the nation began to appreciate their efforts. Local papers were especially helpful in galvanizing support for local attorneys. As early as 1946, many black Nashvillians were made aware of Looby's role in the trials stemming from the Columbia riot through articles in the Nashville Globe. But even before this time, most black southerners had been aware of NAACP legal efforts on their behalf. Looby and Williams not only fulfilled their NAACP duties, but on their own initiative conduc ted their own civil rights crusade in and beyond the courtroom. A strong tradition of civil rights activism in Nashville provided them with a favorable home base from which to work across the entire state.
Looby and Williams' work bridged several eras of black lawyers' involvement in civil rights efforts--from a period of ignominy, to heroism, then ironically to media obscurity, just when their political activities increased. Their work transcended these various eras, however, and should be appreciated for its remarkable degree of continuity. In the final analysis, working against unjust laws and immoral social practices from within the legal system proved to be among the most effective and enduring approaches for advancing black civil rights. The long dedication of individual lawyers contributed a great deal to the brilliant successes in the legal arena.
(1.) Telephone communication to the author, April 1, 2001. Lovett presents this theme and others in his forthcoming book, Avon: Biography of the Civil Rights Movement in Tennessee. Also see John Hope Franklin and Alfred A. Moss, Jr., From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans, 8th ed. (New York, 2000), 524-25; and J. Clay Smith, Jr., Emancipation: The Making of the Black Lawyer, 1844-2944 (Philadelphia, PA, 1993), 17.
(2.) Alexander Looby papers, Fisk University Special Collections (hereafter referred to as Looby Papers), boxes 2,4-10; Bobby L. Lovett, letter to the author, May 15,2001; Bobby L. Lovett and Linda T. Wynn, eds., Profiles of African Americans in Tennessee (Nashville, 1996), 144-45.
(3.) Two lengthy articles documenting this are Robert Jerome Glennon, 'The Role of Law in the Civil Rights Movement: The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-1957," Law and History Review 9 (Spring 1991): 59-112, and Randall Kennedy, 'Martin Luther Kings Constitution: A Legal History of the Montgomery Bus Boycott," Yale Law Journal 98 (April 1989): 999-1067. James A. Colaiaco also points out that a number of talented attorneys, including William Kunstier and Jack Greenberg, helped Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; see Colaiaco, Martin Luther King, Jr.: Apostle of Militant Nonviolence (New York, 1988), 62, 144; and Adam Fairclough, To Redeem the Soul of America: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Martin Luther King, Jr. (Athens, GA, 1987), 98.
(4.) Steven B. Barkan, "Legal Control of the Southern Civil Rights Movement," American Sociological Review 49 (August 1984): 552-65. Probably the most notorious failure of the federal government in the area of civil rights in the twentieth century was the refusal of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI to investigate civil rights violations and other crimes and to punish those responsible. See John T. Elliff, "Aspects of Federal Civil Rights Enforcement: The Justice Department and the FBI, 1939-1964," Perspectives in American History 5 (1971): 605-73. It should also be noted that from 1956 to 1959, southern whites launched a concerted attack on the NAACP, partly because of its legal work. Alabama outlawed the NAACP altogether, which meant the U.S. Supreme Court had to overreach local courts in outlawing the segregation addressed in the Montgomery bus boycott. See Aldon D. Morris, The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement: Black Communities Organizing for Change (New York, 1984), 26-35.
(5.) Donald Barnett King and Charles W. Quick, eds., Legal Aspects of the Civil Rights Movement (Detroit, MI, 1965), ix.
(6.) Abraham L. Davis, "The Role of Black Colleges and Black Law Schools in the Training of Black Lawyers and Judges, 1960-1980," Journal of Negro History 70 (Winter/Spring 1985), 25-26; W. B. B. Du Bois, The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study (1899; reprinted, Millwood, New York, 1973), 114-15; G. Franklin Edwards, The Negro Professional Class (Glencoe, IL, 1959), 135; Charles Hamilton Houston, "The Need for Negro Lawyers," Journal of Negro Education 4 January 1935): 51; Adam Fairclough, Race and Democracy: The Civil Rights Struggle in Lauisiana, 2915-1972 (Athens, GA, 1995), 19; Joseph Gordon Hylton, "The African-American Lawyer, the First Generation: Virginia as a Case Study," University of Pittsburgh Law Review 56 (Fall 1994): 137-56; Judith Kilpatrick, "(Extra)Ordinary Men: African-American Lawyers and Civil Rights in Arkansas before 1950," Arkansas Law Review 53 (2000): 311; Smith, Emancipation, 11-15; Carter G. Woodson, The Negro Professional Man and the Community, with Special Emphasis on the Physicia n and the Lawyer (1934; reprinted, New York, 1969), 221-39.
(7.) Woodson, The Negro Professional Man, 240. Such criticisms never entirely disappeared; during the late 1950s, civil rights leader Fred Shuttlesworth and others involved with the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights accused its lawyers of opportunism and self-interest. See Andrew M. Manis, A Fire You Can't Put Out: The Civil Rights Life of Birmingham's Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth (Tuscaloosa, AL, 1999), 214-15.
(8.) Houston, "The Need for Negro Lawyers," 52; Kilpatrick, "(Extra)Ordinary Men," 380; I. J. K. Wells, "A Counselor of the People," The Crisis (March 1931): 84-85; Woodson, The Negro Professional Man, 224, 241-44, 246-47.
(9.) Smith, Emancipation, 15.
(10.) Kilpatrick, "(Extra)Ordinary Men," 396.
(11.) Smith, Emancipation, 335-44.
(12.) Nashville Tennessean, March 3, 1961, box 3, Looby Papers; Avon Williams's autobiography, written in the early 1980s, was kindly loaned to the author by Avon N. Williams, III. This document is comprised of a series of transcripts made from tape recordings. Internal evidence, such as the pending appeal of the TSU-UTN merger (completed in 1984), suggests the time period. Hereafter, this document will be cited as the "Williams autobiography." Also included in this document is the entire transcript of the Bob Allen-Avon Williams interview, ca. 1979, an edited portion of which was published in an unidentified issue of the Nashville Magazine. Excerpts from the former document, not found in the latter, will hereafter be cited as the Bob Allen-Avon Williams interview, original transcript.
(13.) Bob Allen, "Avon Williams: A Study in Blacks and Whites," Nashville Magazine, ca. 1979, 107.
(14.) Bob Allen-Avon Williams interview, original transcript.
(15.) Richard H. Dinkins, interview with the author, May 3, 2001, in Nashville; hereafter referred to as Richard Dinkins interview.
(16.) Gunnar Myrdal et al., An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (1944; reprinted, New York, 1962), 694, 695, 703-4.
(17.) Richard Dinkins interview.
(18.) George E. Barrett, letter to the author, June 1, 2001.
(19.) Richard Kluger, Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality (New York, 1976), 126; Smith, Emancipation, 17; Mark V. Tushnet, Making Civil Rights Law: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court, 1936-1961 (New York, 1994), 6, 7. On Houston's work at Howard, see Genna Rae McNeil, Groundwork: Charles Hamilton Houston and the Struggle for Civil Rights (Philadelphia, 1983), chapter 6; Leland Ware, "Charles Houston's Transformation of Legal Education," Howard Law Review 32 (1989): 479-93.
(20.) Smith, Emancipation, 3, 15, 16.
(21.) McNeil, Groundwork, 218, 220.
(22.) Juan Williams, Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary (New York, 1998), 94. Following the more purely journalistic, undocumented books by Michael D. Davis and Hunter R. Clark, Thurgood Marshall: Warrior at the Bar, Rebel on the Bench (New York, 1994), and Carl T. Rowan's Dream Makers, Dream Breakers (New York, 1993), Williams's footnoted work presents a marked improvement for scholarly readers. Legal scholars and those looking for more specialized analysis of Marshall's judicial legacy can turn to Howard Ball, A Defiant Life: Thurgood Marshall and the Persistence of Racism in America (New York, 1998), and to two books by one of Marshall's former law clerks, Tushnet, Making Civil Rights Law, and Making Constitutional Law: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court, 1961-1991 (New York, 1997). Williams's book remains the most accessible, while Ball's book offers the greatest combined content of biography and legal history.
(23.) Kluger, Simple Justice, 133-36; Tushnet, Making Civil Rights Law, 12, 20, 116; Williams, Thurgood Marshall, 101-2, 108-9, 111, 113-19, 128-30, 145-46, 147, 150-51.
(24.) Fairclough, Race and Democracy, 72-73; Franklin and Moss, From Slavery to Freedom, 467-68.
(25.) Henry Lewis Suggs, ed., The Black Press in the South, 2865-2979 (Westport, CT, 1983), x.
(26.) Myrdal, An American Dilemma, 744; see also 908-11, 920-21.
(27.) Samuel Shannon, "Tennessee," in Suggs, Black Press in the South, 331,337,338,339.
(28.) Lester C. Lamon, Black Tennesseans, 2900-2930 (Knoxville, 1977), 15.
(29.) A sampling of stories related to civil rights litigation from Tennessee's black press may be found in the following: Chattanooga Observer, May 7, 1948; July 16, 1948; November 12, 1948; December 10, 1948; December 31, 1948; January 28, 1949; February 25, 1949; March 4, 1949; Memphis Tri-State Defender, May 5, 1962; May 26, 1962; Nashville Globe, February 22, 1946; August 19, 1955; September 23, 1955; October 14, 1955; November 4, 1955; January 6, 1956; December 21, 1956.
(30.) Nashville Tennessean Magazine, April 23, 1961,20.
(32.) Lamon, Black Tennesseans, 3, 89, 187, 208, 209; David E. Sumner, "The Local Press and the Nashville Student Movement, 1969" (Ph.D. diss., University of Tennessee, 1989), 1, 56, 63-64.
(33.) Fairclough, To Redeem the Soul of America, 60, 78; Franklin and Moss, From Slavery to Freedom, 531; August Meier and Elliott Rudwick, CORE: A Study in the Civil Rights Movement, 1942-1968 (New York, 1973), 116; Sumner, 'The Local Press and the Nashville Student Movement," iii, 63-64.
(34.) Meier and Rudwick, CORE, 163, 170; Dr. Jamye C. Williams, letter to the author, July 18, 2001.
(35.) Biographical sheet, Z. Alexander Looby Public Library (Nashville); Linda T. Wynn, "Leaders of Afro-American Nashville," Looby Papers; John Britton interview with Z. Alexander Looby, November 29, 1967, 2,3; box 1, f.4, Looby Papers; Nashville Tennessean Magazine, April 16, 1961, 22; and April 23, 1961, 14, both in box 3, Looby Papers.
(36.) One of the best studies of Crump can be found interspersed throughout Michael K. Honey, Southern Labor and Black Civil Rights: Organizing Memphis Workers (Urbana, IL, 1993). The earlier, standard work on Crump is William D. Miller, Mr. Crump of Memphis (Baton Rouge, LA, 1964), but much good material pertaining to the earlier era can be found in David M. Tucker, Memphis Since Crump: Bossism, Blacks, and Civic Reformers, 2948-1968 (Knoxville, TN, 1980). For other materials, see Gerald M. Capers, "Memphis: Satrapy of a Benevolent Despot," in Robert S. Allen, ed., Our Fair City (New York, 1947); Allan A. Michie and Frank Riley, Dixie Demagogues (New York, 1939), chapter 12; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 3, 1938.
(37.) November 3, 1928, announcement of Memphis practice; box 2, f. 26, Looby Papers; Nashville Tennessean Magazine, April 23, 1961, 14; Smith, Emancipation, 62, 343; Who's Who Among Negro Lawyers (Chicago, IL, 1945), 24.
(38.) Nashville Tennessean Magazine, April 23, 1961, 20; box 3, Looby Papers.
(39.) Kent College of Law, Bulletin 1933-1934; Nashville World, September 16, 1932, both in box 2, f.26, Looby Papers; Smith, Emancipation, 57, 60, 62. Around the time Kent College was closing, Looby and two other NAACP attorneys were fighting a case before the Tennessee Supreme Court over enrollment discrimination at University of Tennessee. See State ex rel. Michael et a! v. Witham et al, Supreme Court of Tennessee (1942), 165 SW2d 378.
(40.) The basic account of the "Columbia riot" is given in Dorothy Beeler, "Race Riot in Columbia, Tennessee: February 25-27, 1946," Tennessee Historical Quarterly 39 (Spring 1980): 49-61. The Nashville Globe printed numerous stories on the incident and trial in most issues during March-November 1946.
(41.) Looby's own account of this event is found in Z. Alexander Looby to Leon A. Ransom, November 25, 1946, box 1, f. 15, Looby Papers. Other sources recapitulate the event: John Egerton, Speak Now Against the Day: The Generation Before the Civil Rights Movement in the South (New York, 1994), 365; Kluger, Simple Justice, 225-26; Carl T. Rowan, Dream Makers, Dream Breakers: The World of Justic Thurgood Marshall (Boston, MA, 1993), 102-12; Tushnet, Making Civil Rights Law, 52-55; Gilbert Ware, William Hastie: Grace Under Pressure (New York, 1984), 173-74; Williams, Thurgood Marshall, 131-42.
(42.) Looby to C. Francis Stradford, October 11, 1946; box 1, f. 17, Looby Papers.
(43.) Chicago Defender telegram to Z. Alexander Looby, December 30, 1946, box 1, f. 16, Looby Papers.
(44.) Charles Hamilton Houston to Secretary, Spingarn Medal Award Committee, October 30, 1946; box 1, f. 17, Looby Papers. Timing was against Looby in this regard, as Thurgood Marshall had won the Spingarn the previous year. And though the NAACP itself focused on legal efforts, the award committee may have been reluctant to give the Spingarn to an attorney two years in a row. Instead, in 1947, the Spingam went to the chemist Percy Julian. (Houston won it in 1950.) Still, simply to have Houston's preferential endorsement spoke extremely well for Looby as a compliment from an esteemed peer--although Looby himself said Houston "had no peers"; Britton interview, November 29, 1967; 16, 38; Looby Papers.
(45.) J. Randolph Fisher, "Z. Alexander Looby: An Effective Leader," The Crisis (November 1947): 339.
(46.) Nashville Globe, December 20, 1946 (front page).
(47.) "A Champion of Justice: Z. Alexander Looby," Church Service Directory and News Journal 2 (Nashville, February 27, 1949), 16; box 3, Looby Papers.
(48.) Fairclough, Race and Democracy, 134.
(49.) Edwards, The Negro Professional Class, 133-37, 161.
(50.) Ibid., 137.
(51.) Avon N. Williams, III, e-mail to the author, November 20, 2000.
(52.) Nashville Tennessean, September 12, 1965; box 3, Looby Papers.
(53.) Nashville Banner, November 17, 1969; Nashville Tennessean, November 17, 1969; Nashville Tennessean, August 30, 1970.
(54.) Williams autobiography.
(55.) The school desegregation cases included Gray et al v. Board of Trustees of University of Tennessee et al (1951), 100 F.Supp.113; McSwain et al v. County Board of Education of Anderson County, Tennessee (1952), 104 F.Supp.861; Goss et al v. Board of Education, City of Knoxville (the history is recounted in 1967, 270 F.Supp.903). Other school desegregation and civil rights cases are cited below.
(56.) In 1963 metropolitan Nashville schools consolidated with Davidson County schools, and, in turn the court consolidated a county case with the Kelley case under the new name of Kelley v. Metropolitan County Board.
(57.) Kelley v. Metropolitan County Board (1980), 492 F.Supp., 167-77.
(58.) McSwain et al v. County Board of Education of Anderson County, Tennessee (1952), 104 F.Supp.861; Mapp et al v. Board of Education of the City of Chattanooga (1962), 203 F.Supp.843; Vick et al v. Board of Education of Obion County (1962), 205 F.Supp.436.
(59.) Morris, The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement, 174-78, 205-13; Linda T. Wynn, "The Dawning of a New Day: The Nashville Sit-Ins, February 13--May 10, 1960," Tennessee Historical Quarterly 50 (Spring 1991): 44.
(60.) Sumner, The Local Press and the Nashville Student Movement," 33, 121.
(61.) Ibid., 63-64; Richard Dinkins interview.
(62.) Nashville Tennessean, March 3, 1960; box 3, Looby Papers.
(63.) Dr. Jamye C. Williams, letter to the author, July 18, 2001.
(64.) Bob Allen-Avon Williams interview, original transcript.
(65.) Wynn, "Dawning of a New Day," 50.
(66.) Henry Hampton et al., eds., Voices of Freedom: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950s through the 1980s (New York, 1990), 65. Lillard's analysis is supported in Sumner, "The Local Press and the Nashville Student Movement," 123, 124.
(67.) This correspondence is found throughout box 1, Looby Papers.
(68.) Chicago Daily Tribune, April 21, 1960 (Looby papers, box 1, f.14); Nashville Banner, April 21, 1960; box 3, Looby Papers.
(69.) Wyrm, "Dawning of a New Day," 44, 45,53.
(70.) Nashville Tennessean Magazine, April 16, 1961, 14; box 3, Looby Papers.
(71.) Various correspondence, Kelly Miller Smith papers, Jean and Alexander Heard Library, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee (hereafter referred to as Smith Papers), box 1, files 3-4, 8-10, 12.
(72.) Kelly Miller Smith and Andrew White to Z. Alexander Looby and Avon N. Williams, Jr., April 17, 1963; box 1, file 10, Smith Papers.
(73.) Vasco A. Smith v. Holiday Inns of America (1963), 220 F. Supp. 1; Dr. Sammie Lucas, et ux v. Clifford Earl Hooper, et al (1974), 381 F. Supp. 1222; Compact, et al, v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville (1984), 594 F. Supp. 1567; Rolfe and Peebles v. Lincoln County Board of Education (1966), 282 F. Supp. 192; Mary Johnson v. Lillie Rubin Affiliates, 5 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas (BNA) 547; 5 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P8542, March 15, 1972, January 16, 1973; Thomas Ed Branham v. General Electric Company, 63 F.R.D. 667; 19 Fed. R. Serv. 2d (Callaghan) 502; 15 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 1070, July 12, 1974; Newman, et al, v. Avco Corporation, 15 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 1404; 9 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P9979; 10 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P10, 300, June 3, 1975, memorandum, June 20, 1975; Robert B. Elliott v. University of Tennessee, 766 F.2d 982; 38 Fair Empl. Proc. Cas. (BNA) 522; 37 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P35, 419, July 9, 1985; Napolean Batts et al, v. NLT Corporation, 34 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P34, 444, March 28 , 1984--affirmed in part and reversed in part, April 12, 1988.
(74.) Geier v. University of Tennessee, et al (1979), 597 F.2d 1056.
(75.) Tennesseans for Justice in Higher Education, "Position Paper on TSU Case," ca. February 1972, 1; box 96, file 7; Smith Papers.
(76.) One of many early examples involved Whitney Young, Sr., and his efforts to preserve the Lincoln Institute located near Simpsonville, Kentucky. See Dennis C. Dickerson, Militant Mediator: Whitney M. Young, Jr. (Lexington, KY, 1998), 16-18.
(77.) Tennesseans for Justice in Higher Education, "Position Paper on TSU Case," 4; box 96, file 7, Smith Papers.
(78.) Williams autobiography.
(79.) Geier v. University of Tennessee, et al (1984), 593 F. Supp. 1263.
(80.) Kenneth S. Tollett, "Black Lawyers, Their Education, and the Black Community," in African Americans and the Legal Profession in Historical Perspective, ed. Paul Finkelman (New York, 1992), 438.
Will Sarvis *
* Will Sarvis is an independent researcher who lives in Eugene, OR.…
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Leaders in the Court and Community: Z. Alexander Looby, Avon N. Williams, Jr., and the Legal Fight for Civil Rights in Tennessee, 1940-1970. Contributors: Sarvis, Will - Author. Journal title: The Journal of African American History. Volume: 88. Issue: 1 Publication date: Winter 2003. Page number: 42+. © 2008 Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Inc. COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.