The first name that usually comes to mind when someone mentions "legendary civil rights attorney" is Thurgood Marshall. His is the name we all learned coming up as being instrumental with taking our fight to the courts. Maybe it's because he was the most prominent attorney involved with the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education. It stands to reason, however, that as large as that case was, no single attorney could have handled it alone so there had to be other champions. One such person was Oliver Hill.
Hill was another civil rights lawyer who was the forefront of the legal effort which desegregated public schools. He was part of a series of lawsuits against racially segregated public schools that would eventually become the Brown v. Board of Education decision. Hill died today at the ripe age of 100.
Can you imagine the rollercoaster ride of emotion a person of his stature must have witnessed in a century? I say that because he saw the struggle our people were having with getting an equal education in a flawed system. He fought to make that right and saw that dream become a reality. Then he witnesses the decay that that same system would fall prey to as gang violence, drugs and crime contribute to the mis-steps of our youths. It would almost be enough to make one person think that everything he did was in vain.
I personally cannot thank pioneers like Hill enough for everything they did. Their intentions were to make sure our people were entitled to the same education as whites were. However, what they also unintentionally did was ensure that our culture would permeate the lives of those who would have otherwise not given it a chance. It was because of soldiers like Hill that I was able to walk the schools of Norwalk and make a lasting impression on the lives of other students whose previous exposure would have been limited to a couple of hours of BET viewing.
Thank you, Mr. Hill...and rest in peace.