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The Honorable Donald L. Graham

Federal judge Donald L. Graham was born on December 15, 1948 in Salisbury, North Carolina to Ernest Graham and Mildred Graham. He attended Lincoln Elementary School and Monroe Street Elementary School in Salisbury. He graduated from J.C. Price High School in 1967. Graham earned his B.A. degree (magna cum laude) from West Virginia State University in 1971 and earned his J.D. degree from The Ohio State University Law School in 1974.

Graham was admitted to the Ohio State Bar and joined the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He was sent to West Germany, where he remained for forty-two months until his transfer to Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. While serving in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, Graham taught at the University of Maryland in the business law department. He was honorably discharged from active duty in 1979 and was appointed as Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Florida. Graham remained in that position until 1983, when he began working at the law firm of Raskin and Graham, P.A. In 1991, he was appointed by President George H.W. Bush as a Federal District Court Judge for the Southern District Court of Florida. Graham retired from the military in 1999, having reached the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves in Florida. In 2013, he began senior status at the United States District Court, Southern District of Florida.

Graham served as a member of numerous organizations. In 1985, he served as president of the South Florida Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. Graham was also a mentor for the 5,000 Role Models for Excellence, a board member for the Performing Arts Center for Greater Miami, and a member of the Just the Beginning Foundation.

Graham received awards for both his military service and judicial career, including the U.S. Army Achievement Award and the William H. Hoeveler Award for Ethics and Public Service, the William H. Hastie Award, the Juris Award for Judicial Efficiency, and Miami’s “50 Most Influential Professionals” in 2004.

Donald L. Graham was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 6, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.031

Sex

Male

Interview Date

03/06/2017

Last Name

Graham

Maker Category
Middle Name

L.

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

J.C. Price High School

West Virginia State University

The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School

First Name

Donald

Birth City, State, Country

Salisbury

HM ID

GRA17

Favorite Season

Winter

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Nairobi, Kenya

Favorite Quote

Excuses are tools of incompetence that build nothing...

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

12/15/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Miami

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pasta

Short Description

Federal judge Donald L. Graham (1948 - )

Employment

United States District Court

Raskin & Graham, P.A.

United States Attorney's Office

U.S. Army Judge Advocate Generals Corps

Favorite Color

Black and gold

The Honorable Charles N. Clevert, Jr.

Federal judge Charles N. Clevert, Jr. was born on October 11, 1947 in Richmond, Virginia to Charles Nelson, Sr. and Ruby Clevert. He attended Armstrong High School in Richmond and graduated in 1965. He earned his B.A. degree from Davis and Elkins College in Elkins, West Virginia in 1969, and his J.D. degree from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. in 1972.

Clevert began his career as the assistant district attorney of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. In 1975, he became an assistant U.S. attorney of the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Clevert then became a special assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois in 1977. During the same year, Clevert was appointed as a U.S. bankruptcy judge for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. He served as bankruptcy judge until 1995, during which time he held the position as chief judge from 1986 until the end of his tenure. Clevert also lectured at the University of Wisconsin Law School. Following his retirement from the bankruptcy court, Clevert was appointed as judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in 1996. Clevert served as chief judge from 2009 until 2012; at which time he became senior judge on the court. He assumed his senior status on October 31, 2012.

Clevert served as chair of the Federal Judiciary Center’s Advisory Committee on District Judge Education, as president of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges and as chair of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges’ Endowment for Education. He was also a member of the American Bar Association House of Delegates the National Conference of Federal Trial Judges’ Executive Committee, and the American Jury Project. Clevert also established two programs, the Charles N. Clevert, Jr. Mentoring Program and the Charles N. Clevert, Jr., Internship Program.

In 1993, Clevert was awarded the Black Excellence Award by the Milwaukee Times. He was also the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from David and Elkins College in 1998.

Clevert and his wife, Leslie Clevert, have two children, Charles, III and Melanie.

Charles N, Clevert, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 22, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.057

Sex

Male

Interview Date

02/22/2017

Last Name

Clevert

Maker Category
Middle Name

N.

Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Charles

Birth City, State, Country

Richmond

HM ID

CLE07

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

? ? ?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Wisconsin

Birth Date

10/11/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Milwaukee

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Catfish

Short Description

Federal judge Charles N. Clevert, Jr. (1947 - )

Favorite Color

None

The Honorable Vanzetta Penn McPherson

Vanzetta Penn McPherson is a retired United States magistrate judge in her hometown of Montgomery, Alabama. McPherson was born on May 26, 1947, to Sadie and Luther Penn. McPherson received her B.A. degree in speech pathology and audiology from Howard University in 1969, her M.A. degree in 1971 from Columbia University, and her J.D. degree, also from Columbia, in 1974.

McPherson began practicing law as an associate at Hughes Hubbard & Reed, a Wall Street law firm. She stayed there until 1975, when she became an assistant attorney general for the State of Alabama. In 1978, McPherson began practicing law in Montgomery, focusing on family and constitutional law. McPherson was appointed United States magistrate judge for the Middle District of Alabama in 1992 and was re-appointed in 2000; she retired from the bench in 2006.

One of the most notable rulings for McPherson was a discrimination case involving the Alabama Two-Year College System. Three females at two different Alabama colleges were denied promotions because they were women and because of their age. McPherson ruled in favor of these women and ordered the college system to give them the promotions; she also ordered back pay for the women.

In 1989, McPherson and a fellow lawyer founded and built Roots & Wings, a cultural bookstore that serves as a showcase for black history, art and literature. McPherson holds life memberships of the National Bar Association and the American Bar Association. McPherson also served on Alabama’s Federal Judicial Nominating Commission, the Eleventh Circuit Advisory Council, and several advisory committees to the Alabama Supreme Court; she is also a past president and vice president of the Alabama Lawyers Association, past president of the Montgomery Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and chair of the Family Law Section of the Alabama State Bar.

McPherson has received awards from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Women of Distinction, South Central Alabama Girl Scout Council, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

McPherson and her husband, Thomas, have raised four children.

Accession Number

A2007.099

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/19/2007

Last Name

McPherson

Maker Category
Middle Name

Penn

Organizations
First Name

Vanzetta

Birth City, State, Country

Montgomery

HM ID

MCP01

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hilton Head, South Carolina

Favorite Quote

What You Are Is God's Gift To You. What You Make Of Yourself Is Your Gift To God.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Alabama

Birth Date

5/26/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Montgomery

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Peanuts

Short Description

Entrepreneur and federal judge The Honorable Vanzetta Penn McPherson (1947 - ) served as a United States magistrate judge for the Middle District of Alabama and co-founded the African American cultural bookstore, Roots & Wings.

Favorite Color

Earth Tones

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Vanzetta Penn McPherson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her maternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her maternal grandmother, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her maternal grandmother, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her mother's personality and career, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her mother's personality and career, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes how segregation in Alabama restricted her parents' educational opportunities

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her father's family history

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes the homes of her maternal and paternal grandparents

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her maternal and paternal grandfathers' family histories

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers the neighborhood in which she grew up, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers the neighborhood in which she grew up, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her experience of the Montgomery Bus Boycott when she was eight years old

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes the day-to-day schedule of her first three years at Alabama State College Laboratory High School

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes the structure of her classes at Alabama State College Laboratory High School in Montgomery, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers her first grade teacher at Alabama State College Laboratory High School in Montgomery, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers her second and third grade teachers at Alabama State College Laboratory High School in Montgomery, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers her fourth and fifth grade teachers at Alabama State College Laboratory High School in Montgomery, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers her sixth grade teacher at Alabama State College Laboratory High School in Montgomery, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers her seventh grade teacher at Alabama State College Laboratory High School in Montgomery, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers her eighth grade teacher at Alabama State College Laboratory High School in Montgomery, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers her ninth grade teacher at Alabama State College Laboratory High School in Montgomery, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers her experience in tenth grade at Alabama State College Laboratory High School in Montgomery, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson reflects on how notable Civil Rights milestones and people are taken for granted in Montgomery, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers her eleventh grade teacher at Alabama State College Laboratory High School in Montgomery, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers her experience in twelfth grade at Alabama State College Laboratory High School in Montgomery, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes the class segregation of the organizations Jack and Jill of America and National Tots and Teens

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers enrolling at Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1965

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson talks about the Vietnam War

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes the environment of Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson recalls her brief experience pledging Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson recalls class discrimination and skin color bias at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her decision to major in speech pathology at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers some of her professors at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson recalls the jobs she worked while she was a student at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson recalls her decision to enroll at Columbia Law School in New York City, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson recalls her professors at Columbia Law School in New York City, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her experience at Columbia Law School in New York City, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson recalls her classmates at Columbia Law School in New York City, New York

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers meeting her first husband while attending Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson recalls her experience working at the law firm of Hughes Hubbard and Reed

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes leaving New York City and returning to Montgomery, Alabama in 1975

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes starting her private law practice in Montgomery, Alabama and her marriage to Thomas McPherson, Jr.

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers becoming a United States magistrate judge in 1992

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her class action lawsuit against promotion discriminations in the Montgomery County Sheriff Department

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her experience as a United States magistrate judge for the Middle District of Alabama

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson talks about judging discrimination cases

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson reflects upon her community involvement and the African American community in Montgomery, Alabama

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson shares her messages for future generations

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes her life after retirement

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson talks about her Roots and Wings bookstore in Montgomery, Alabama

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson reflects upon her regrets

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson shares her hopes for the future

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson concludes her interview

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Vanzetta Penn McPherson narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

6$5

DATitle
Vanzetta Penn McPherson recalls her professors at Columbia Law School in New York City, New York
Vanzetta Penn McPherson remembers becoming a United States magistrate judge in 1992
Transcript
Okay. And what was that experience like for you at Columbia [Law School in New York City, New York]?$$It was a delightful experience. I'm a Martian in that I really enjoyed law school. I had a very good time in law school. I think part of the reason is that I was married throughout. So I didn't have to juxtapose, if you will, law study with trying to have a social life. But I also think that the fact that I was pregnant my entire third year made it just a wonderful time. And the fact that I had an easy pregnancy, made it a wonderful time. When I was a first year student at Columbia, you walked in the door and to your right was a room full of students mingling over doughnuts. We don't know where those doughnuts came from, but they were there every morning, along with coffee. That was a real thing. I was in law school when Roe v. Wade was decided [1973]. A delightfully intriguing time for change. I was in law school when Willis [L.M.] Reese taught conflicts. When Michael [I.] Sovern was the dean. Which E.--which [Edward] E. Allan Farnsworth taught first year contracts. When Professor [Albert J.] Rosenthal taught secured transactions. And people who are lawyers will understand why this was such a wonderful place to be. When Curtis Berger taught real property. I was in law school with professors who wrote the law books. That in and of itself was fascinating. But I was also in law school when [Supreme Court Associate Justice] William O. Douglas, who graduated from Columbia in 1925, visited the law school and signed my constitutional law book. I was also in law school when Howard Cosell, another graduate of Columbia law school [sic, Cosell attended New York University School of Law], regularly came and waxed eloquently about first one thing and then another. Not the least of which was Muhammad Ali.$So after sixteen years in private practice what happens next?$$Quite shockingly I attended in August of 1991 a judicial conference. Every federal district, and there are 94 of them in America, every federal district that is of the judiciary has what is called a judicial conference every year or every other year. In 1991 I attended the judicial conference for the Middle District of Alabama at the Grove--Grove Inn [Omni Grove Park Inn], a very well-known establishment, lodging establishment in Asheville, North Carolina. Beautiful site. I didn't know that the Middle District was adding a United States magistrate judge's position at the time. I learned it there and I was encouraged by a sitting magistrate judge, as well as one of the deans of civil rights law practice here, Solomon Seay [Jr.], to apply for the position. I had loosely entertained thoughts throughout my practice of being a judge. I'd wondered about it. I was curious about how it was. I knew I did not want to be a state court judge because I have some difficulty dealing with the election of judges, especially the way it's done in Alabama. So I knew I would never run for a judgeship. The appointment process appealed to me. So I applied. And on January 10th of 1992 the Chief Judge of the federal court, [HM] Myron Herbert Thompson, called me to tell me I had been selected. And I entered the service on April 6th of 1992 and served as a United States magistrate judge until October 31st of last year, 2006. Very different experience from private practice. And very different experience from solo practice.

The Honorable David Coar

Judge David H. Coar was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on August 11, 1943. Coar was the oldest of three children and attended a religious school at the elementary level before graduating from a public high school in 1960. After commencement, Coar went to Syracuse University, earning his B.A. in 1964. In 1969, he earned his J.D. from Loyola University in Chicago, and a year later he received his LL.M. from Harvard Law School.

Coar began teaching at DePaul University in 1974, and remained there for five years. He left DePaul to take a position with the United States Justice Department as a U.S. trustee. Coar returned to DePaul in 1982, where he remained for another four years. In 1986, Coar was named a judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and in 1994 he became a judge of the U.S. District Court of Illinois. Within this role, Coar has ruled on a number of landmark decisions, including his 1999 fining of anti-abortion leaders under RICO statutes, which had been used to prosecute members of the mafia.

Away from his bench, Coar is active in a number of civic and community organizations. He has been active with the Boys & Girls Clubs and serves on its board of directors. Coar also belongs to the American Bankruptcy Institute and is an active member in the National Bankruptcy Conference.

Accession Number

A2003.063

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/2/2003

Last Name

Coar

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

H.

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Loyola University Chicago

First Name

David

Birth City, State, Country

Birmingham

HM ID

COA01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Florida Keys

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

8/11/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pudding (Banana)

Short Description

Federal judge The Honorable David Coar (1943 - ) was a judge in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and was later appointed as a judge of the U.S. District Court of Illinois. In this role, Coar has made a number of landmark decisions, including his 1999 fining of anti-abortion leaders under RICO statutes, which had been used to prosecute members of the mafia.

Employment

DePaul University

United States Department of Justice

United States Bankruptcy Court

United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
0,0:3004,20:3628,29:20748,240:42976,480:44593,503:44978,513:45286,518:50200,555:61630,633:67976,682:68504,689:70176,714:72640,757:76776,843:82260,856:82575,862:89243,918:91840,954:95176,983:97438,1030:103628,1100:105476,1145:105812,1150:106736,1155:107156,1161:108248,1171:108920,1180:116676,1249:118955,1280:122363,1353:131900,1524:139108,1620:140004,1640:149284,1851:151140,1900:151524,1908:157020,1938:160230,1950:161522,1975:161902,1981:163270,2014:179253,2200:188790,2269:189086,2274:189382,2279:189900,2288:190196,2297:194450,2339:199946,2518:200230,2523:206123,2589:217066,2745:247830,3191$0,0:8640,158:14130,259:21136,320:23754,424:35456,520:38162,573:38736,581:40130,603:62945,914:80442,1114:80714,1119:82142,1147:84318,1201:89962,1310:90438,1318:93230,1328
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of David Coar's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - David Coar lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - David Coar describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - David Coar describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - David Coar talks about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - David Coar describes the sights, sounds, and smells of Shreveport, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - David Coar contrasts Shreveport, Louisiana to Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - David Coar remembers his school experiences and teachers

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - David Coar describes his activities at A.H. Parker High School

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - David Coar describes playing football at A.H. Parker High School with future star athletes

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - David Coar talks about his favorite subjects in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - David Coar recalls his decision to attend Syracuse University

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - David Coar remembers growing up next to HistoryMaker Angela Davis's family in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - David Coar recalls growing up in the Dynamite Hill section of Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - David Coar recalls ongoing resistance to racism in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - David Coar talks about issues of race at Syracuse University in New York

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - David Coar talks about his campus activities at Syracuse University

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - David Coar talks about how majoring in International Relations at Syracuse University led him to study law

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - David Coar talks about selecting Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - David Coar talks about his expanding view of history

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - David Coar describes working with sharecroppers in a War on Poverty program in 1965

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - David Coar recalls the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama in the mid-1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - David Coar describes the small number of black students at Chicago area law schools

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - David Coar describes preparing himself to teach while at Loyola University Chicago Law School

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - David Coar describes the difference between a J.D. and an LL.B.

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - David Coar recalls taking interesting courses on race while at Harvard Law School

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - David Coar describes his civil rights work at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - David Coar recalls working on major discrimination cases while practicing law in Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - David Coar describes moving back to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - David Coar describes teaching at DePaul University College of Law

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - David Coar talks about working as a U.S. Trustee from 1979 to 1982

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - David Coar recalls resigning from his position as a U.S. Trustee

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - David Coar talks about working on Harold Washington's mayoral campaigns in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - David Coar describes his appointment as a U.S. bankruptcy judge in 1986

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - David Coar describes the complexities being a judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - David Coar talks about becoming a U.S. Federal District Court judge

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - David Coar shares his views on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - David Coar talks about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's conservativism

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - David Coar talks about fining anti-abortion leaders under the RICO statutes

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - David Coar recalls handling the Global Relief Foundation defamation case

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - David Coar describes a landmark internet telephone usage case involving MCI

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - David Coar talks about the versatility required to be a U.S. District judge

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - David Coar talks about his push to end strip searches of female inmates

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - David Coar talks about how his mother influenced his legal rulings

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - David Coar talks about his future plans

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - David Coar describes his hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - David Coar describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - David Coar reflects upon his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$5

DAStory

2$5

DATitle
David Coar talks about fining anti-abortion leaders under the RICO statutes
David Coar talks about the versatility required to be a U.S. District judge
Transcript
Okay, now as a U.S. District judge, now you've been involved in some, some highly publicized cases. And I mean not that they made a celebrity out of you, you know, but, but they, they were high profile cases. And one is the anti-abortion leaders that were fined and you know, by you in 1999. Talk, can you talk about that?$$Sure, 'cause that's all over now. The Supreme Court has reversed everything. It was a, the RICO [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations] Act. They were sued civilly under the RICO statute, and the, the basis was that they had violated the Hobbs Act, the extortion act. And the theory was that, that by--that they'd used violence to extort the clinic operators to cease doing business, and that they'd used violence to extort women who wanted to avail themselves of the services of the clinics from, from doing that. There were at the time criminal RICO cases that had said that that type of thing would constitute extortion. Before I got the case, it had gone up the United States Supreme Court. And the Supreme Court had--well the way it got to the Supreme Court is that the judge who had it before me said that under RICO, you couldn't reach a definitive under RICO unless there was an economic motive to what they were doing, and that here the motive was political, not economic. They weren't trying to get money or, or, or, or things. They were trying to, to--they were doing it for political reasons. It went up to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court said, no, there's nothing in the statute that requires that there be an economic motivation. They raised for the first time the, the First Amendment issue before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court said, no, that's not for us to decide. We need--in the first instance, we need to send it back down to, to the lower courts. When it got back down, they argued that this was not--among other things, they argued that this was not extortion. Looking at some of those other cases, some of the criminal RICO cases, I said that, that it was. The Seventh Circuit of Appeals agreed--goes back up to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court says, no, that extortion under the statute requires not only a violent act, but it has to seek to acquire something, in that when they tried to stop the clinic operators from, from operating the clinics, certainly they were taking something away from the clinic operators, but they weren't acquiring anything for themselves. When they stopped women from using the clinics, they were, they were taking something away from them, but they weren't receiving anything. And that's not extortion under the statute. Well, that came as a big surprise to a lot of people. The Supreme Court said that it was consistent with, with all the other cases. It--I disagree with that. I don't think it was, but that's the way the law stands. And, and I was just reading the other day about a case in New York, as a criminal prosecution, they had to dismiss some of the charges, in light of the Supreme Court case and a now case, because the, the judge said they changed the definition of extortion.$$What goes around, comes around.$$Right, right, right, yeah.$It was more complicated--these are comp--just an example of some of the, of the complexity of I guess these decisions, you know, 'cause they're, they're not, some of these are not easy decisions.$$Well, federal courts in this country--district courts in this country, what, what are called generalist courts, there's no specialization. You can have some specialized courts. The tax court is a specialized court. The, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit handles patent cases, that's patent and, and copyright cases. That's what they do. For the most part, the federal courts are generalist courts. So I might have a patent case one day, a communications case the next day, a securities case, a labor law case, a criminal case right after that. So it's, it's, it keeps you on your toes.$$It sends you and your staff to the books a lot.$$A lot, (laughter) an awful lot. And we depend on the lawyers, because frequently the lawyers are experts in the field. And they have--some of them are better than others in, in, in just educating you. And, and the lawyers in, in that, that communications case were excellent. They brought in charts and graphs, and they showed--explained how the system, the whole communications system operated. And, and that makes a big difference when the lawyers are helpful like that.

The Honorable Ann Claire Williams

Judge Ann Williams was born in Detroit on August 16, 1949, the oldest of three daughters born to Dorothy and Joshua Williams. Williams graduated from Wayne State University in 1970 with a degree in elementary education and then got a masters degree from the University of Michigan in guidance and counseling. She then taught third grade in Detroit until she went to the University of Notre Dame, where she received her law degree in 1976.

William began her legal career as a law clerk with Judge Robert Sprecher of the U.S. Court of Appeals. This beginning served her well for the career that awaited her. She worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago from 1976 to 1985, trying major felony cases. Then in 1985, President Ronald Reagan appointed her as the first African American woman on the Federal District Court in Illinois and only the ninth African American woman ever appointed to Federal District Court.

In August 1999, Williams was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit by President Bill Clinton. She was confirmed on November 10, 1999, becoming the first African American ever appointed and the third African American woman to serve on any federal appeals court.

Accession Number

A2000.042

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/20/2000

Last Name

Williams

Maker Category
Middle Name

Claire

Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Ann

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

WIL02

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, Kauai, Hawaii

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

8/16/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Watermelon

Short Description

Federal judge The Honorable Ann Claire Williams (1949 - ) was the first African American appointed to serve on any federal appeals court. Williams was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1999. Previously, Williams was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the Federal District Court in Illinois in 1985.

Employment

United States Court of Appeals

Northern District of Illinois

Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals

Favorite Color

Green, Yellow

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ann Williams interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ann Williams's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ann Williams gives some background on her father

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ann Williams talks about her mother's life

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ann Williams reveals how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ann Williams discusses family genealogy

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ann Williams talks about her sisters

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ann Williams shares cherished family memories

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ann Williams continues to remember her youth

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ann Williams remembers the close-knit family relationships of her youth

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ann Williams details her life during Motown-era Detroit

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ann Williams decides to go law school on a lark

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ann Williams describes her childhood personality

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ann Williams conveys her early career desires

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ann Williams expresses her deep love of playing music

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ann Williams loves Aretha Franklin's music

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ann Williams discovers a great love of teaching

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Ann Williams reveals her lyrical ability

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Ann Williams is excited to see children learn

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Ann Williams relates the various irons she had in the fire after graduating from college

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ann Williams remembers her favorite teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ann Williams recalls her harrowing first day at Notre Dame Law School

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ann Williams reflects upon her law school experience at Notre Dame

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ann Williams contrasts her music education with her legal training

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ann Williams compares and contrasts her pre- and post-law school self

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ann Williams details her clerkship in the 7th Circuit after law school

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ann Williams describes her post-clerkship career strategy

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ann Williams recalls her experience as a U.S. Attorney

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ann Williams details her various positions in the U.S. Attorney's office

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Ann Williams relates the influence of her mentors in the U.S. Attorney's office

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Ann Williams shares anecdotes from her tenure as a U.S. Attorney

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Ann Williams divulges the secret to being a great prosecutor

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Ann Williams describes the impact working in Washington D.C. had upon her career

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ann Williams discovers she might be interested in serving on the bench

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ann Williams is nominated for federal district court judge

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ann Williams describes the judicial confirmation process

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ann Williams gives a detailed background on the integration of the 7th Circuit bench

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ann Williams details the relationship between her judicial appointment and serving as a U.S. Attorney

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ann Williams receives a call from President Reagan

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ann Williams recalls the confirmation process and appointment

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ann WIlliams describes life on the 7th Circuit District Court bench

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ann Williams relates her formula for success

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Ann Williams discusses an on-the-job hazard: reversal of opinion

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Ann Williams comes full-circle with a nomination to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ann Williams swearing-in date for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ann Williams describes the difference of process between the district court and court of appeals

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ann Williams expresses what her legacy may be

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ann Williams wants to leave a legacy of having made a difference in the community

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ann Williams describes some pivotal cases in her judicial career

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ann Williams details her mentors throughout her judicial career

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ann Williams continues with black legal figures who inspired her

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ann Williams remembers Federal Judge Leon Higginbotham

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Ann Williams remembers Federal Judge Constance Motley

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Ann Williams speaks fondly of her mentor, Judge Damon Keith

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Ann Williams expresses the importance of blacks serving on the federal judiciary

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Ann Williams expands on the importance of blacks serving on the federal bench

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Ann Williams share some final words of wisdom

The Honorable Sterling Johnson, Jr.

Throughout his long and varied career, Judge Sterling Johnson has been a socially progressive force and has served with conscientious integrity. Johnson was born on May 14, 1934, in Brooklyn, New York, growing up with his parents, three sisters and one brother in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Restless as a youth, Johnson graduated from high school only because his father insisted he do so in order to join the U.S. Marine Corps. Johnson joined the U.S. Marines and served for three years.

Johnson then returned to New York and joined the New York City Police Department in 1956 where he steadily moved up the ranks. At the same time, he began night school at Brooklyn College and obtained his degree after eight and a half years of part time study. After finishing, Johnson then went on to Brooklyn Law School graduating in 1966 in the top ten percent of his class.

In 1967, Johnson began the second phase of his law enforcement career as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York acquiring a reputation as a tough prosecutor. After three years, Johnson was appointed as executive director of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, investigating allegations of police misconduct and brutality. In 1974, Johnson was named executive liaison officer for the Drug Enforcement Administration in Washington, D.C. Subsequently, Johnson became the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for New York City for fourteen years garnering acclaim for his outspoken stance on the "war on drugs."

In 1991, President George Bush appointed Sterling Johnson as a federal judge to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Johnson credits his varied background in law enforcement for bringing a fresh and unique perspective to the federal court.

Accession Number

A2001.043

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

5/21/2001

Last Name

Johnson

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Archival Photo 2
Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Sterling

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

JOH01

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Flexible

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

No

Favorite Season

Spring

Speaker Bureau Notes

Preferred Audience: Flexible

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

5/14/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Federal judge The Honorable Sterling Johnson, Jr. (1934 - ) was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in 1991. Previously, Johnson was Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Johnson began his long law career as a police officer for the New York City Police Department in 1956.

Employment

New York City Police Department

United States District Court, Southern District of New York

New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board

Drug Enforcement Administration

New York City Office of Special Narcotics

United States District Court, Eastern District of New York

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sterling Johnson interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sterling Johnson's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sterling Johnson shares his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sterling Johnson shares family history of slavery and poverty

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sterling Johnson discusses his siblings and death of his brother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sterling Johnson discusses his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sterling Johnson details childhood memories.

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sterling Johnson recalls his elementary school years

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Sterling Johnson describes Marine Corps life

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sterling Johnson discusses life as an NYPD officer and college student

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sterling Johnson details law school life at Brooklyn Law School

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sterling Johnson describes his legal mentors and law school life

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sterling Johnson details his early legal career as a US Attorney

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sterling Johnson talks about working as a narcotics officer

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sterling Johnson discusses the dearth of blacks on the federal bench

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sterling Johnson details life as a policeman on the narcotics beat

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sterling Johnson details the international trade of herion

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sterling Johnson recalls his successful tenure as a Special Narcotics Prosecutor

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sterling Johnson discusses the impact of politics on his criminal prosecutions

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sterling Johnson recalls a contract put on his life by a drug lord

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sterling Johnson discusses his federal judicial nomination process

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sterling Johnson describes life on the federal bench

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sterling Johnson discusses the dearth of blacks in the federal judiciary

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sterling Jonson sharesstories of his unothodox methods to secure a new Federal courthouse

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sterling Johnson shares anecdotes of his attempts to diversify judicial clerkships

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sterling Johnson tries to educate the younger generation about the legal and criminial process

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sterling Johnson shares conerns of the slow pace of black achievement

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sterling Johnson shares a story of DWB- driving while black

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sterling Johnson reflects upon his parents and his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

5$2

DATitle
Sterling Johnson talks about working as a narcotics officer
Sterling Johnson shares a story of DWB- driving while black
Transcript
Bill Tandy, head of the narcotics unit in the U.S. Attorney's office. The only one in the country. Welcomes me to the office. "Look forward to working with you. Where did you work before?" He asked me. And I told him narcotics. So he tells me this story of a big narcotics conspiracy in Chicago [Illinois]. And in this conspiracy, some of the heavies felt that one of the lesser defendants was an informant. So they put out a contract on this defendant. A fella knocked at the door of this defendant. Shows a shield, Chicago Police Department, and said, "My boss wants to talk to you. Downtown." This defendant says, "Okay, I'm shaving. Let me wipe the shaving cream off and I'll go downtown with you." So he goes back into the house, into the bathroom to wipe the shaving cream off his face. He's followed by this policeman. The policeman takes out a gun, (explosion sound) one in the head. This defendant falls down. The policeman rolls him over (explosion sound) one in the face. The policeman leaves. This defendant does not die. He gives a description of this policeman. And Chicago disseminates this information throughout the whole country. Do you know anybody fitting this description who would do a hit like that? And Tandy asked me this question. I said, "Yeah, I know somebody who fits that description, who would do a hit like that. In fact, he's a hit man." "Can you get a picture?" I call up the police department. I just left two days ago. Right. They got the picture. They sent it out to Chicago, (claps). That was the hit man. Well, they thought I work--walked on water. They thought I walked on water. And narcotics in the U.S. Attorney's office was elite assignment. You know, you had to walk on hot coals to get there. Tandy wanted me yesterday and I'd only been in the office two days. You know. And long story short, after about six months I went to the narcotics unit. I'm in the narcotics unit about six months and the Deputy Chief of the narcotics unit leaves to go to private practice. And Bill Tandy says to the U.S. attorney, "I want Sterling to be my deputy." 'Cause I'm mature. I got all this experience. And he had other guys in the unit. You know. All of them are white. And I thought I'd have problems. No problem at all. I now became their deputy. I have been trying to get out of narcotics ever since. But I'm always in narcotics.$But, even though we made that type of progress that doesn't stop me from being stopped for driving while black. And it happened to me! I'm in South Carolina and I go to a place called, Beaufort. And I get to Beaufort. You fly into Savannah [Georgia]. You drive up to Beaufort. I got there on a Friday, did my thing on Saturday. And I'm catching the first thing smoking going out on a Sunday morning. I think it's about 6:00 [a.m.], 7:00. So I get up out of my hotel or motel 4:00, 4:30. And I'm driving my car back to Savannah to catch the airplane. And, I'm on this bridge and there's water on both sides. And I see angry yellow lights in my rearview mirror. And I know it's the police but I can't stop 'cause I'm on this bridge, two-way, two lanes. Angry yellow lights become angrier now. Now they're angry yellow, red and blue. So I wait 'til I get off the bridge and I pulled off to the side. And I see this big--he gotta be 6'2" ,6'3", all muscles, about 220-30 pound. And he's got his hand on his gun. A Glock. So--and I'm looking at him face to face. 'Cause he's got this drill instructor's, a teddy bear hat on. You know, those hats that they wear? And he says, "Sir, I had my lights on. You didn't stop." I'm still looking at his hand on that gun. And even though I'm looking at him face to face. I knew his neck was red, right? So he says--oh, I tell him that, "I saw your lights but I'm on the bridge and I can't stop. Two-lane highway and I wait 'til I got off the bridge and then I did stop." He said, "Can I see your license and registration, Sir?" Hands still on the gun. And I think of [Andrew] Goodman, Swaney-[Michael Schwerner] Swerner and [James] Chaney. Remember them? I--I just think of them. It was terrifying, pitch black! He says--I showed him my license and I showed him the--I rented a car. He says, "Where you going?" I says, "I'm going to the airport to catch a plane." He said, "Where's your luggage?" He says--I said, "In the car. In the trunk." He says, "Can I see it?" Now, I knew about the Fourth Amendment. It's what I deal with. I know about law school. But I also know Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney and he got that hand on the gun! I said to myself, "What I'm gonna do, I'll open the trunk and I'll let him see my luggage in there. And if he wants to open it, I want to see a supervisor." But if he'd said, "Dance boy." Man, I'd dance. I'm a regular Nicholas [Fayard and Harold, tap dancers] Brothers, you know. I'd did a, "Yes Sir, Boss." You know? So I opened it and he even let me slam the trunk, he said, "What kind of work, you do?" I said, "I'm a judge." He said, "What kind of judge?" I said, "A federal judge." He looks at me. I looked at him, also with his hand on that gun! And he said, "All right. I'ma give you a warning, this time." I said, "Thank you." He then pulled away. And I said, "what the hell is he warning me about?" I didn't go through a red light and I didn't speed. 'Cause it's pitch black and I don't know where I'm going! It dawn on me, driving while black! And I'll never forget that. And don't ever want to forget it!$$That's a powerful story. When did that happen?$$Last year.$$The year 2000.$$That's right!

The Honorable Robert L. Carter

Born on March 11, 1917, in Careyville, Florida, Robert L. Carter moved north to Newark, New Jersey, as an infant, with his mother. Carter's childhood was beset by family tragedy. He lost three siblings and his father, all during his early childhood years. Studious and introspective, Carter excelled in school, skipping two grades and graduating from high school at age 16. He received a scholarship that enabled him to attend Lincoln University, and upon receiving his A.B. in Political Science, was offered a scholarship to Howard University's School of Law.

After obtaining his Masters in Law from Columbia University, Carter was drafted into the armed forces. The pervasive racial prejudice he encountered affected him deeply, and shortly after he ended his tour of duty, he was hired as an assistant to NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall. Carter would stay on as a lawyer for the NAACP for the next 24 years. During his tenure, he argued 22 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court (including Brown v. Board of Education (1954)) and won 21.

After Brown v. Board of Education, many southern states sought to stem the tide of desegregation by aggressively intimidating the organization most responsible, the NAACP. Attempting to incapacitate the NAACP, southern states passed legislation that required the organization to make its membership lists public, believing that this would intimidate and cow NAACP supporters. In a series of cases, beginning with NAACP v. Alabama (1958), Carter argued successfully that such legislation violated the NAACP's first amendment right to free speech, because it was clearly intended to intimidate people. In each instance, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Carter and the NAACP; the membership maintained its anonymity; and the NAACP remained a powerful force for desegregation in the South.

After leaving the NAACP in 1968, Carter spent several years at a private law firm before he was appointed as a U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York in 1972. He held adjunct faculty positions at the University of Michigan and New York University law schools and at Yale University graduate school. Carter was an outspoken advocate of equal rights, and made headlines when he decried the rampant racial prejudice plaguing the criminal justice system.

Over his lengthy and esteemed career, Judge Carter was the recipient of many awards, honors and degrees. He sat on dozens of boards, committees and task forces and published numerous articles.

Carter passed away on January 3, 2012 at age 94.

Accession Number

A2001.012

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/22/2001

Last Name

Carter

Maker Category
Middle Name

L.

Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Careyville

HM ID

CAR01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

3/11/1917

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish

Death Date

1/3/2012

Short Description

Federal judge and lawyer The Honorable Robert L. Carter (1917 - 2012 ) began his law career as an assistant to Thurgood Marshall. Later, Carter became a lawyer for the NAACP for twenty-four years. During his tenure, he argued twenty-two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including Brown v. Board of Education, and won twenty-one. Carter was appointed as a U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York in 1972.

Employment

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

United States District Court, Southern District of New York

University of Michigan Law School

New York University Law School

Yale Law School

Favorite Color

Tan

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert Carter interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Robert Carter's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert Carter describes his family's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert Carter talks about memories of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert Carter talks about his childhood school days

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robert Carter describes his encounter with a racist teacher in grade school

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robert Carter describes his attitude toward education as a young person

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robert Carter talks about his experience at Lincoln University

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Robert Carter talks about studying law at Howard University

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Robert Carter talks about his experience in the military

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert Carter talks about dealing with racism in the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert Carter talks about working on U.S. Supreme Court cases with Thurgood Marshall at the NAACP.

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert Carter describes the working environment of the NAACP in the 1950s and 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert Carter describes how the NAACP became involved with 'Brown v. Board of Education'

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert Carter talks about the strategy behind the NAACP's civil rights cases

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert Carter describes Thurgood Marshall as a colleague

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert Carter talks about the success he and the NAACP had in U.S. Supreme Court civil rights cases

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert Carter explains why he left the NAACP

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Robert Carter talks about the start of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert Carter explains the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert Carter reflects on his law career

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert Carter assesses racial discrimination in the U.S.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert Carter evaluates the successes of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert Carter addresses issues facing the African American community

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert Carter evaluates the reparations movement

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robert Carter considers his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$2

DAStory

4$2

DATitle
Robert Carter describes how the NAACP became involved with 'Brown v. Board of Education'
Robert Carter talks about working on U.S. Supreme Court cases with Thurgood Marshall at the NAACP.
Transcript
And now with 'Brown [v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas,' 1954], that case was the right case at the right time, sir, right?$$(Nods).$$This, it had, but how did you as the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons]. find out about, you know, Lucille Brown? I mean did they come to the NAACP. I'm just--$$Well, what we were doing at the time, this is what, this is what the states would call barristering, but we would announce to the International Office Group that we were interested in certain kinds of cases. And our local branches would then indicate that they had somebody in these cases. And the issue, when we announced, I think in 1950, this is after 'Sweat [v. Painter'], the Texas case in law school, and 'McLaurin [v. Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education,' 1950] that we were going to go up for the classes, I mean for the public school. And we had a case that ame from Clarington County, South Carolina, and then a group of lawyers called us about a case in Kansas, and that's the Brown, that was the Brown, and what would happen would be that I go down there, get the papers, file the papers in court, and go down with a local lawyer, in terms of the case and try it, and that's what we, that's what we did in Clarington County and Brown and in the Kansas case. So, that's how, that's how, that's how it operated, and that's what the states were very concerned about. They called us barristering because we would announce that, and what we, but you know, at that time, it was not so much in Kansas but certainly South Carolina, you had to make sure that people understood what they were into, and I'd go down and talk to them and tell them, you know, what they'd have to face. They had all these people coming up and I was sure they were gonna get pressure put on them, they might lose their jobs and so forth, and I think I only had, maybe one or two people backed out. They was really amazing.$$People were, it was clear that they wanted to see change and they were willing to sort of put their lives on the line?$$Yeah.$And so, when you get out [of military service], what are your, because the war's [World War II] still going on at the time you get out, yeah, so you get out and what do you do then at that point.$$I take the [New York State] Bar [Examination].$$Here in New York?$$Here in New York. And then I start--while I'm waiting for the Bar to start looking for a job, and Thurgood [Marshall] was looking for an assistant, and I interviewed, and that was my job.$$Oh, that's fabulous. Okay. Okay. So, that started a very, that was a wonderful sort of thing that happened?$$Yeah.$$So, had you had any exposure to Thurgood Marshall up until that point?$$No. I didn't know him. I was recommended out to him by Bill [William Henry] Hastie, and I was looking for a job, and I think that, I, you know--memory is, never rely on the recollection of old men--but I think that Hastie called me and told me that Marshall was looking for an assistant and that I go over there on my interview. And it's my impression that, when I came in I was hired. I don't think I was going to have any problem. But I think he told me either--yeah, he told me before I left, I was hired or a couple of days later, but anyway, I knew I had a job.$$And then so you, you worked for the, this is with NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People]? And you worked there for how many years?$$I think '44 [1944] to '68 [1968].$$To sixty--or fifty--.$$'68 [1968].$$Oh, I see, okay. I see. But let's talk about the types of cases that you worked on. Well, I know the main one was 'Brown v. Board of Education' [1954], but it says that you worked, and I do want to talk about that, but it said that you actually did twenty-two cases, argued twenty-two in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.$$(Nods).$$What type, were these all cases sort of leading up to the types of cases that would lead up to 'Brown v. Board'?$$No. The only case I think that I argued in the Supreme Court that was leading up to 'Brown' was the case from Oklahoma, 'McLaurin [v. Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education,' 1950], that was my first case. And then all my other cases came after 'Brown'. And many of them that were involved were First Amendment cases. What had happened was that after 'Brown,' the southern states began to want to find ways to make sure the NAACP couldn't function, because its theory was that they if they disable the NAACP, that there wouldn't be any problem. They thought this was outside agitation and that their local people are happy with being subservient and so forth and so on. And if they filed the NAACP, they couldn't do it. So, what they were trying to do, they had--they were trying to get our membership list and, you know, expose them and therefore, the people would be exposed, in terms of their jobs. They also tried to--or they did pass laws making, directed to the NAACP's legal activity, making it illegal by (unclear) and so forth. So that I spent a number of--time in the Supreme Court arguing that our membership list was, had to be anonymous in order for us to exercise our right to First Amendment rights and that we had the right to petition and NAACP register (unclear). And that teachers and so forth should not be required to reveal their membership in the NAACP because otherwise they'd be, they'd be fired, and this was a lot of cases, cases like that. And then there was 'Gomillion v. Lightfoot' [1960], one of the cases I argued, where the--Tuskegee [Alabama] had decided what it was going to do in order to keep control of the city, they gerrymandered all the blacks outside the city. And that went to the Supreme Court, and it was the next step after the court decided that case, because up to that time, they called us a political thicket. They weren't going to decide cases like that in terms of districting and so forth. Once they decided that that case was--that districting was unconstitutional, the next step was the "one man, one vote" cases. So, they made it--people don't, people don't understand how you make those steps.