The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr.

Distinguished lawyer and judge Theodore R. Newman, Jr. was born on July 5, 1934, in Birmingham, Alabama. His family later moved to Mount Hermon, Massachusetts, where Newman graduated from high school.

After earning a philosophy degree from Brown University in 1955, Newman studied constitutional law and jurisprudence at Harvard Law School. He earned his law degree in 1958 and then began a three-year tour of duty with the U.S. Air Force as a judge advocate stationed in France. Upon his return to civilian life, Newman took a job with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. He entered private practice in 1962 in Washington, D.C.

In November 1970, Newman became an associate judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, the court of general trial jurisdiction for the district. He served in that capacity until his appointment in October 1976 as chief judge of the Court of Appeals. Newman joined the Board of Trustees at Brown University in 1979, and the following year, Brown University conferred an honorary doctorate of laws upon him. In 1984, he became an associate judge of the Court of Appeals, and held that position until 1991, when he retired and received status as a senior judge.

Newman has been very active over the years in several legal organizations. He is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation of the American Bar Association, a past president of the National Center for State Courts, and former chairman of the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association. The National Bar Association bestowed Newman with its highest honor, the C. Francis Stradford Award, for his outstanding service in the struggle for equal justice. In 1988, the board's Judicial Council gave him its highest honor, the William H. Hastie Award.

Newman has also lectured at Harvard Law School and held adjunct professorships at Howard University Law School and the Georgetown Law Center. He has traveled extensively in Africa.

Accession Number

A2003.239

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/24/2003

Last Name

Newman

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Schools

Northfield Mount Hermon School

Brown University

Harvard Law School

First Name

Theodore

Birth City, State, Country

Birmingham

HM ID

NEW01

Favorite Season

Winter

Speaker Bureau Notes

Has a second home in the U.S. Virgin Islands:

6345 Smith Bay
St. Thomas
USVI 00802
340-779-1909
340-776-3995 (fax)

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Africa

Favorite Quote

Lord Be Willing And The Creek Don't Rise.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

7/5/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Steak

Short Description

Appellate court judge The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. (1934 - ) The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. has worked with the U.S. Department of Justice and in private practice. He later became an associate judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, and was appointed Chief Justice of the District's Court of Appeals.

Employment

United States Air Force

Department of Justice

Houston, Bryant and Gardner

Pratt, Bowers and Newman

District of Columbia

D.C. Court of Appeals

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:268,3:544,8:958,15:2131,36:7890,60:14092,135:16808,214:17238,220:17926,231:19556,243:32140,307:33031,319:36595,381:37162,389:50870,568:51360,577:54830,612:63968,688:74576,783:75129,791:77499,816:80896,904:99826,1259:103292,1284:103588,1289:105438,1330:106104,1340:108426,1348:109252,1356:113415,1395:114980,1404:119206,1480:120220,1494:120766,1505:125664,1539:126937,1566:127205,1571:127607,1578:131962,1669:132230,1674:133034,1706:133637,1719:134173,1728:136920,1780:137188,1785:143118,1805:143488,1811:149932,1881:152126,1911:153218,1935:156260,1991:157040,2006:157430,2015:158678,2036:159146,2044:166730,2215:167080,2221:167360,2226:167640,2231:168270,2243:168690,2251:173526,2313:174550,2346:174806,2351:189020,2444:191380,2469:199414,2558:205928,2639:219526,2756:220345,2767:223537,2779:224158,2789:226228,2835:226780,2846:228229,2879:228505,2884:234758,2938:235374,2949:237460,2955:238426,2970:238840,2982:239116,2987:239530,2994:240565,3029:240841,3034:241117,3041:241393,3046:249407,3165:249833,3173:280570,3533$0,0:6150,221:6870,235:15808,331:18400,383:18880,389:19264,394:22648,420:31079,528:45320,870:62070,1030
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. talks about his parents' names and birthplaces

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes his paternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes the origin of his mother's family name: McAlpine

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes his father's occupation as an A.M.E. preacher in Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. talks about the history of Washington Chapel A.M.E. Church

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes his mother's education and career, and her affiliation to Selma University in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes his parents' relationship and how they first met

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. talks about growing up in Tuskegee, Alabama and the value of education within the community

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes his parents' influence and growing up as a preacher's son

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. details his experiences with mischief as a child and young adult

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes civil rights activity in Tuskegee, Alabama including his father's activism

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes playing football as a youth

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. talks about his childhood personality and grade school years in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. lists memorable personalities of the Tuskegee, Alabama community

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. talks about his childhood neighbor, photographer P.H. Pope

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes his father's work for the Tuskegee Airmen

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes Charles G. Gomillion, a professor at Tuskegee Institute and an active civil rights participant in Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. talks about extra-curricular activities at Tuskegee Institute High School in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. talks about his attempt to create a student government at Tuskegee Institute High School in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes his experience of applying to Mount Hermon School for Boys in Gill, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes his time at Mount Hermon School for Boys in Gill, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes notable teachers at Mount Hermon School for Boys in Gill, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. talks his decision to become a lawyer

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes his university application process

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes his experience at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island and how it compares to other Ivy League schools

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. speaks about his teachers and mentors at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. speaks about choosing to major in philosophy at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. talks about his social life during his time at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes his application process for law school

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes his time at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts including influential professors and classmates

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. recalls his experience in the U.S. Air Force at the Laon-Couvron Air Base in France

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. recalls his experience as judge advocate for the U.S. Air Force at the Laon-Couvron Air Base in France

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. recalls his experiences in Paris, France during World War II

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes traveling in Europe during World War II as a judge advocate for the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes working for the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. speaks about his opinions of key figureheads in the U.S. Department of Justice during the early 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes joining the law firm of Houston, Bryant, and Gardner after he left the U.S. Department of Justice

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. talks about his Republican affiliation and involvement in Republican politics

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes his activities on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in the early 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. recalls his trying of the United States v. James Arnold

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes his appointment by President Gerald R. Ford to the D.C. Court of Appeals in 1976

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes his meeting with David Brody of the Anti-Defamation League

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes his hopes and concerns for the black community, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes his hopes and concerns for the black community, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes what he would do differently, looking back on his life

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$2

DAStory

7$10

DATitle
The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. describes his experience of applying to Mount Hermon School for Boys in Gill, Massachusetts
The Honorable Theodore Newman, Jr. talks his decision to become a lawyer
Transcript
My high school experience was not a good one. For example, when I took the entrance exam for admission to prep school to Mount Hermon School [for Boys, later Northfield Mount Hermon, Gill, Massachusetts]. For the first time in my life, I had difficulty finishing an exam in the allotted time. Part of the application process to Mount Hermon, and Mount Hermon had been recruiting African Americans in Tuskegee [Alabama] for ten or fifteen years before me. You had to send a recommendation from your principal. They wanted him to send a recommendation and you could select a teacher to do a recommendation. I selected T. C. Williams, of course. When I got to prep school, the dean of admission, Dean Burdick, all six foot four or five, called me down to the office to talk to me without telling me why. He sent somebody to tell me to come down he wanted to talk to me. I said oh my God what have I done now, I'm getting put out, can't go home, ain't no way in the world I can go back to Alabama and tell my parents I've been put out of Mount Hermon and I said, "I haven't done anything." Dean Burdick said, "No"--as soon as I got there I said, "what, have I done something wrong?" He said, "No, no nothing wrong." He said, "But we do want to ask you about Tuskegee Institute High School [Tuskegee, Alabama] because there something that is unusual about your application." He said, "We have two recommendations, your principal and T. C. Williams," and he said, "They are diametrically opposed to each other." He said, "Your test score was very good. Your high school record was good compared to other people from that same high school who'd been here, so we were confident that you could do the work, but we couldn't understand why you got this negative recommendation from your principal," at which time I told him of the family background and the bad blood between my family and the principal. He said, "Well how did you find the exam?" I said, "I didn't find it particularly difficult." I said, "I thought it was a bit long to finish in two and a half hours." He said, "Two and a half hours?" I said, "Yeah, two and half hours." I said, "I had to rush a bit to get through with it, and it's the first time I've ever had to rush to finish a test in the allotted time." He said, "Theodore," he said, "Ted, you were supposed to have four hours." They had deliberately cut my time by an hour and a half. They tried to ensure that I wouldn't get in. That was done at the high school. At my 50th reunion in 19, I mean 2001, as part of the tradition at Mount Hermon you are allowed to see your student file, and I had an opportunity to read the letter that K. B. Young had written and the letter that T. C. Williams had written. You can imagine my reaction at Christmas break, my year, my senior year at prep school when I got back to Tuskegee and went by the high school and K. B. Young, Mount Hermon sent your grades back, your first quarter grades back to the high school from which you had come if you had come from a high school, and they sent them to the principal. I was at the high school and saw K. B. Young, and he told me that he had seen my grades at Mount Hermon and how proud he was of how well I was doing. The bad Ted responded to him appropriately and vulgarly, in the process telling him I knew what he had done, but I was gonna make it in spite of him.$$That's something. That certainly says something about the anger of most people-yeah (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) True story, true story.$So, well, when you were at, on the verge of graduating, now you graduated from Mount Hermon [School for Boys, later Northfield Mount Hermon, Gill, Massachusetts] in what year?$$Nineteen fifty-one [1951].$$Okay, 1951. So when you were coming out did you have an idea of what career you were gonna pursue now?$$Oh no question. I'm told that I said I was gonna be a lawyer when I was about five years old. I know by the time I was in the seventh or eighth grade, really about the time I was in fifth or sixth grade I was saying when I refused to salute the flag I knew I was gonna be a lawyer, and I knew I was going to Harvard Law School [Cambridge, Massachusetts]. I was just arrogant enough and cocky enough, a poor little country boy from Southeast Alabama who didn't wear shoes until I was twelve and didn't know meat wasn't a side dish until I was twenty, a poor little country boy, but I knew. I was, I knew I was going to Harvard Law School. I knew I was gonna be a lawyer, never had a second thought about that, never.