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A. Dwight Pettit

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Information about A. Dwight Pettit

Profile image of A. Dwight Pettit

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Trial Lawyer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Pork Chops
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Islands
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
9/29/1945
Birth Location:
Rutherfordton, North Carolina

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Trial Lawyer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Pork Chops
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Islands
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
9/29/1945
Birth Location:
Rutherfordton
See how A. Dwight Pettit is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Alvin Dwight Pettit was born on September 29, 1945, in Rutherfordton, North Carolina. His mother worked as a beautician and his father worked as an engineer. His family migrated to Baltimore after his father was offered an engineering job in Maryland. In 1958, his father initiated a lawsuit against Harford County, Maryland school officials, forcing the school system to integrate the all white Aberdeen High School. Pettit, represented by Thurgood Marshall, won his suit and was admitted to Aberdeen and graduated in 1963. In addition to being the first African American male to attend the school, he also integrated the football team.

Pettit attended Howard University from 1963 until 1967, where he earned his bachelor’s of arts degree. While at Howard, Pettit played football, participated in the ROTC program, reaching the rank of colonel and pledged Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. While at Howard, he received the Holland Ware award for the student athlete demonstrating all around athletic and academic ability. Pettit earned his law degree from Howard in 1970.

In 1970, Pettit began his career as a trial attorney for the Small Business Administration under President Richard Nixon. His duties included preparing briefs for the Department of Justice on fraud cases involving SBA loans. He litigated his first private case, Pettit vs. the United States. The case received national acclaim and is considered a landmark decision, setting the standard for back pay awards in discrimination cases. In 1973, Petit brought the first suit in the country against Maryland for discrimination in the bar examination. The case would lead to other states changing its testing practices. In 1973, Petit left the SBA and formed Mitchell, Petit, David and Gill and later his own practice.

Pettit handled many high profile criminal and personal injury cases. In 1977, he won Scott v. Sutton Place, which determined that Maryland landlords have responsibility and are liable for criminal activity on their property. In 1983, he won his first million-dollar judgment against the Washington, D.C. Transit Authority in the accident case, Goodwin v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation. Pettit continues to practice law in Baltimore, where he resides with his wife, Barbara.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of A. Dwight Pettit's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - A. Dwight Pettit lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - A. Dwight Pettit describes his mother's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - A. Dwight Pettit describes his mother's personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - A. Dwight Pettit describes his paternal family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - A. Dwight Pettit talks about his maternal and paternal grandparents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - A. Dwight Pettit recalls his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - A. Dwight Pettit describes his father's personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - A. Dwight Pettit describes his paternal aunt, Dorothy Mae
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - A. Dwight Pettit explains his family's move to Baltimore, Maryland
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - A. Dwight Pettit recalls holiday celebrations during his childhood in Maryland
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - A. Dwight Pettit remembers his childhood in Turner Station, Dundalk, Maryland
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - A. Dwight Pettit describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - A. Dwight Pettit describes his paternal family's educational, military and career achievements
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - A. Dwight Pettit recalls the challenges of growing up an only child and dealing with his father's alcoholism
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - A. Dwight Pettit remembers attending Fleming Elementary School in Turner Station, Maryland and Bragg School in Sparrows Point, Maryland
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - A. Dwight Pettit describes his home and family life while attending elementary school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - A. Dwight Pettit talks about his extracurricular activities and hobbies at Sollers Point High School in Sparrows Point, Maryland
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - A. Dwight Pettit describes his family's move to Aberdeen, Maryland
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - A. Dwight Pettit describes boarding with another family while attending Lemmel Junior High School in Baltimore, Maryland
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - A. Dwight Pettit explains the origin of his early interest in law
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - A. Dwight Pettit explains his family's decision to send him to the segregated Aberdeen High School in Aberdeen, Maryland
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - A. Dwight Pettit describes the trial to integrate Aberdeen High School in Aberdeen, Maryland
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - A. Dwight Pettit explains the case law influencing the judicial decision to integrate Aberdeen High School in Aberdeen, Maryland
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - A. Dwight Pettit describes Thurgood Marshall and Juanita Jackson Mitchell, who represented him in the case to integrate Aberdeen High School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - A. Dwight Pettit remembers his principal at Havre de Grace Middle School in Havre de Grace, Maryland testifying against him in court
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - A. Dwight Pettit recalls racist encounters when he first entered Aberdeen High School in Aberdeen, Maryland
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - A. Dwight Pettit describes his experience playing football at Aberdeen High School in Aberdeen, Maryland
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - A. Dwight Pettit explains his decision to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - A. Dwight Pettit recalls his initial impression of Howard University in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - A. Dwight Pettit talks about challenging courses and professors at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - A. Dwight Pettit describes his experience at Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - A. Dwight Pettit recalls his first job with the U.S. Small Business Administration after graduating from Howard University School of Law
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - A. Dwight Pettit describes working as trial attorney on the national litigation staff for the U.S. Small Business Administration
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - A. Dwight Pettit recounts filing an anti-discrimination suit against the Maryland State Bar Association
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - A. Dwight Pettit recounts representing his father in the civil rights lawsuit, Pettit v. United States, 1973
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - A. Dwight Pettit explains why he was deferred from U.S. military service
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - A. Dwight Pettit remembers winning Pettit v. United States, 1973
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - A. Dwight Pettit recalls memorable cases from his private law practice in Baltimore, Maryland
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - A. Dwight Pettit recalls his initial involvement with President James "Jimmy" Carter's 1976 presidential campaign
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - A. Dwight Pettit explains how losing the nomination to U.S. attorney for Maryland led him into corporate law
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - A. Dwight Pettit describes his work with HistoryMaker Reverend Jesse L. Jackson's 1984 presidential campaign
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - A. Dwight Pettit talks about Kweisi Mfume's 1986 campaign for U.S. Congress
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - A. Dwight Pettit talks about why he lost his 1986 campaign for U.S. Congress to Kweisi Mfume
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - A. Dwight Pettit talks about why he lost a Baltimore City Council election to Elijah Cummings
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - A. Dwight Pettit remembers litigating police shooting and brutality cases in the 1980s and 1990s
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - A. Dwight Pettit explains why he supported Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. during the 2002 Maryland gubernatorial campaign
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - A. Dwight Pettit talks about his relationship with Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - A. Dwight Pettit talks about his experience campaigning for Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. during the 2002 Maryland gubernatorial campaign
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - A. Dwight Pettit explains why he believes Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend lost the 2002 Maryland gubernatorial election
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - A. Dwight Pettit reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - A. Dwight Pettit talks about his hopes for the future
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - A. Dwight Pettit narrates his photographs, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - A. Dwight Pettit narrates his photographs, pt. 2