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The Honorable Eugene Sawyer

Civil servant and former Chicago Mayor Eugene Sawyer was born in Greensboro, Alabama, on September 3, 1934, to Bernice and Eugene Sawyer, Sr. The oldest of six children, Sawyer graduated from Alabama State University in Montgomery in 1956 with his B.S. degree in secondary education. While still in school, Sawyer traveled to Chicago every summer to live with his aunt on the South Side and work odd jobs.

After graduating from college, Sawyer taught high school math and chemistry for one year in Prentiss, Mississippi; in 1957, he moved to Chicago permanently to pursue a career in laboratory science. Sawyer spent two years working for Rockford Sprinklers before he was hired at a South Side water filtration plant in 1959 to work as a lab technician. At the same time, Sawyer joined the Democratic Ward Organization of the 6th Ward, where he worked his way up through both the organization and the city water department. Over time, Sawyer served as president of the 6th Ward Young Democrats; financial secretary for the entire ward organization; and president.

Sawyer served as alderman of the 6th Ward from 1971 until 1988; in 1987, following the unexpected death of Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, he was elected by the City Council to serve as acting mayor of the City of Chicago. Sawyer was sworn in at 4:01 a.m. on December 2, 1987, after a contentious fight that divided Chicago’s African American community. During his tenure as mayor, Sawyer expanded Chicago’s governmental outreach to develop cooperative partnerships with business and industry.

Following his term as mayor, Sawyer and his friend, businessman Charles Harrison, III, partnered to form CEI International, a reseller of natural gas and other fuels; he served as vice president of the company until 1997.

Sawyer was an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity since 1953 and a trustee at Vernon Park Church and vice chairman of the board of the Wyatt Center.

Sawyer married his wife, Veronica, on September 7, 1996.

Eugene Sawyer passed away on January 19, 2008, at the age of seventy-three.

Accession Number

A2003.024

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/29/2003

Last Name

Sawyer

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Stephen Memorial Grammar School

Hale County Training High School

Alabama State University

Hale County High School

First Name

Eugene

Birth City, State, Country

Greensboro

HM ID

SAW01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mexico

Favorite Quote

Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

9/3/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Macaroni, Cheese

Death Date

1/19/2008

Short Description

City alderman and mayor The Honorable Eugene Sawyer (1934 - 2008 ) was the mayor of Chicago in addition to being a successful entrepreneur.

Employment

Prentiss Institute

Rockwood Sprinkler Corporation (Chicago)

City of Chicago

CEI International

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Eugene Sawyer interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Eugene Sawyer's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Eugene Sawyer describes his family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Eugene Sawyer discusses his father's occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Eugene Sawyer remembers his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Eugene Sawyer evaluates the role of children

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Eugene Sawyer recounts his childhood in Greensboro, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Eugene Sawyer recalls his father's business

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Eugene Sawyer reflects on race relations in the Greensboro, Alabama of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Eugene Sawyer recounts his school years

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Eugene Sawyer remembers influential figures from his high school years

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Eugene Sawyer recounts his experience on the high school football team

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Eugene Sawyer recalls his college prospects

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Eugene Sawyer recounts his civil rights participation while in college

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Eugene Sawyer describes his first job, post-college

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Eugene Sawyer describes his initial employment in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Eugene Sawyer details his beginnings in Chicago politics

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Eugene Sawyer discusses his campaign for alderman of Chicago's 6th ward

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Eugene Sawyer describes Chicago's 6th ward

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Eugene Sawyer reviews changes in Chicago politics during the late 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Eugene Sawyer reflects on Mayor Richard J. Daley's interactions with Chicago's black community

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Eugene Sawyer remembers Chicago politics after the death of Mayor Richard J. Daley

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Eugene Sawyer recalls Jane Byrne's mayoral tenure

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Eugene Sawyer remembers Harold Washington's mayoral tenure

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Eugene Sawyer describes his role in the Harold Washington administration

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Eugene Sawyer recalls federal investigations of Chicago aldermen, 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Eugene Sawyer recalls dissent in the Harold Washington administration

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Eugene Sawyer recalls Harold Washington's second term in office

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Eugene Sawyer remembers the death of Mayor Harold Washington

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Eugene Sawyer discusses political activity following the death of Mayor Harold Washington

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Eugene Sawyer recalls his election as acting mayor of Chicago

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Eugene Sawyer recalls reactions to his election as acting mayor of Chicago

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Eugene Sawyer recalls his tenure as acting mayor of Chicago

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Eugene Sawyer recounts the Steve Cokely conspiracy theory incident

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Eugene Sawyer discusses opponents to his 1989 mayoral campaign

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Eugene Sawyer evaluates his personality

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Eugene Sawyer recounts Chicago's 1989 mayoral election

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Eugene Sawyer describes improvements made during his mayoral tenure

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Eugene Sawyer responds to criticisms of his leadership persona

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Eugene Sawyer describes the closure of his energy endeavor

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Eugene Sawyer calls for unity in the black community

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Eugene Sawyer reflects on his mayoral tenure

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Eugene Sawyer details hometown responses to his success

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Eugene Sawyer discusses his children and his nephew

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Eugene Sawyer considers his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

3$1

DATitle
Eugene Sawyer recounts his civil rights participation while in college
Eugene Sawyer remembers the death of Mayor Harold Washington
Transcript
That was the beginning of the, in my second, third year in college, when we really got involved in the Civil Rights Movement. We really had to, the capital [Montgomery, Alabama] being right down the street, we had Dr. [Martin Luther] King's house being right down the street from the capital, so we had to do our best to try to protect his house.$$Now, I heard or read that the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church was right--$$Right down the street from the capital, right. And right up the, up the hill is the capital. Right down at the bottom of the hill is the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.$$All right, and that's the scene for the organizing of the Montgomery Bus Boycott?$$Right. That church and Reverend [Ralph] Abernathy's church.$$Yeah, so tell us about that. I mean how did--when did you find out or get, become aware that all that was going on in Montgomery?$$I think that a radio station is what I'm told, you know, and I was there, but I wasn't listening to the radio. But they said that they decided to boycott the buses. And they wanted really to try to figure how to get the word out. And they had no way of getting the word out. They couldn't pass out any leaflets like that. But I think some maid heard the, heard, heard about the boycott. And she told her boss that the black folks were gonna boycott the buses the next day. And, of course, the lady called the radio station right away, and that's how we got the word out that the boycott was gonna happen the next day. And, you know, it was really amazing to see people walking. I mean I could--I got up the next morning. I saw people walking, tradesmen carrying their tools on the side and people walking with him, and people really committed. They really were committed to doing whatever their leaders told them they wanted done. That was one time that black folks really stuck together. And they were--and people walking everywhere.$$Now, what were you students talking about when this was going on, and what was the word on campus?$$Well, during the time on campus, we had a boycott going on, on the dining hall, the dining hall and the, you know, toilets in the washrooms and paper towels and things. All those kinds of things were happening. And we didn't really get the amount of attention that we would have gotten because the boycott was going on. So we were able to actively do our boycotting at, and at a certain point in time we were able to successfully achieve what we set out to do.$$Okay, so the students got better food and toilet paper and all the things that--$$(Nodding yes) Got all the things they wanted.$$Okay, and that was occurring just as the Montgomery bus boycott--$$Right, was going on, right.$$Okay, now, did the school administration give you all advice about the boycott? Did they try to keep you from participating or--$$Un-un.$$--did they encourage you to participate or--$$Un-un.$$What happened?$$We had the good sense that it was best that we stay away from the boycott. And we didn't want to get kicked out of school. That was the thing because this was a state-supported school. So we didn't involve too much in it, but quietly--$$Yeah, but did the school tell you that?$$No.$$Did the school administrators say you will be kicked out of school if you participate?$$No, no, they didn't tell us that.$$Okay, but you figured it might--$$Figured it.$$Just kind of figured that might be the case?$$Figured it might be the case, right.$$Okay, well, so what happened next? I mean did you all get involved in it at all?$$Quietly, yes.$$And what happened? What was that involvement about?$$Well, there were some friends of mine who were students and ministers, T. Y. Rogers and Harold Carter, they were ministers. And they were ministers and they got involved with the, Dr. King. In fact, T. Y. Rogers was killed in Atlanta [Georgia] driving to work. He worked with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference [SCLC]. But that was after we graduated from college. But during the time we went to college, we were all members of the same fraternity, and we all stuck together. And they say, you hang, hang together or hang separately, whatever you choose. And we figured it's best to hang together. So we worked with T. Y. and Harold Carter. And we were sort of acted, somewhat as a--taking Dr. King to the post office and places like that, but not the sit-ins. But we didn't, well, unfortunately, we were not with him when they blew up his house.$$Okay, well, now, describe what happened when his house was bombed?$$Well, we were in our rooms in the dormitory, and we heard the--the news travels very quickly there, you know. And, of course, he didn't want anybody to act or do anything silly. He just said to the people, just go home. Things will be okay. And we followed his advice.$$So you all went over to his house after you heard it had been bombed?$$Um-hum.$$And he talked to you all directly?$$He talked to a crowd of people.$$Now, did anybody just leave? Did anybody like try to protect him or protect his house? Were there people with--armed people around trying to protect or, you know,--$$I'm not aware of any, but we followed his advice.$$Okay, so students went back--$$Went home.$$Okay, is that the, is that the most dangerous part of the experience in Montgomery, do you think?$$I think so. I do remember students turning over a car, coming through the campus.$$Now, what students, you mean the students at Alabama State [University, Montgomery, Alabama]--$$Um-hum.$$--turned over a car? Whose car was it, and why--$$I, I don't know, very frankly. I really don't know. But I remember seeing the car turned over.$$Okay, and you don't know who it was?$$I really don't know who it was.$$Did students do anything else to help with the boycott, the bus boycott, besides serving as bodyguards? I mean did students do other things?$$There were fundraising campaigns going on and (unclear) on the streets. We worked stopping cars, getting contributions. We did that.$$Did any of you all have cars that you used to help?$$No, we didn't have any cars?$$The days--before black students had cars on campus (laughter).$$(Laughter). No, we weren't that lucky.$$Now, they all have cars.$$Now, they all have cars, right.$$So, did you attend Dexter Avenue Baptist Church or did you ever go over there for a meeting?$$Yes, um-hum, used to love to hear Dr. King speak. He was such a, just an orator, I mean he was good.$$Now, Abernathy's church was First Baptist [Church], is that what it was?$$I think it was First Baptist.$$And I think when Dexter came out of that church in the old days, and that's how they got two Baptist churches.$$Right.$$Did you ever go to his church?$$Yes.$$Well, in 1956, now, you graduated in '56, right?$$Um-hum.$$Now, that was a, one exciting year, I guess.$$Right, it was.$$You graduated from college and--how did that make you feel, you know, all of that activity?$$Well, you know, I was particularly happy one year when Dr. King first came to the campus, you know, we used to have to go to vespers, that is evening service that the student usually prepare to go to sleep in the afternoon because you can't spend the time with your girlfriend on the campus sitting on the lawn. So we had to go to vespers that day. And they said, Dr. Martin Luther King was gonna be a speaker. And we all got together and our, with our friends. And Dr. King came up to the rostrum, and he looked down at the crowd, you know, and he stood and paused for a few minutes. And he said, when Jesus was on the mountain and tempted by the devil, he said, cast yourself down and, and I know you can do it because you're of the Lord. And he turned these stones to bread. It was a moment of difficult decision. And he started to expound from there on. He spoke elo--very eloquently. And it's interesting, he was fine orator. He kept our attention. We couldn't hardly--we were on the end of our seats at the end of his speech.$$So he transformed a sleepy experience into a--$$A wide awake experience, wide awake.$$Now, did you run for any offices in college? Were you the head of anything in college?$$No, I really wasn't.$$But you're a member of the Alphas and--$$Member of the Alpha Phi [Alpha] fraternity.$$Alpha Phi, okay. Now, can you remember what stage the boycott was in when you graduated? Had they finished their negotiations yet or where was it?$$Let's see, I came out in the summer of '56. I'm not sure if they were--they were practically, almost through with the boycott by then I think.$$Now, did you--how did you feel about all the media attention Montgomery was getting on T.V. cause I know when you weren't--I mean not being in Montgomery as a kid, I saw it on T.V. all the time, you know.$$Well, that's, that's the whole, you know, if it didn't get the attention, we wouldn't have been able to achieve what we achieved in Montgomery.$$Were there a lot of reporters in town at that time? Did you see a lot of T.V.--$$Not around the campus, but they were, I'm sure in town. And we didn't get down, down to the courthouse to the hearings, you know. But I'm sure they were there.$$Okay, is there anything else you want to tell us about that time?$$No, it was just an exciting time.$$Did you have a sense that things were changes in the country then, that--$$Hopefully, they were. But I found out later, they weren't. And it still haven't changed that much.$I was asking you about '87 [1987], you know, what you, how you felt in '87, going into the new year--that, after the election of Harold [Washington] with the majority and what you thought the prospects were for the city [Chicago, Illinois], I think, at that point, and the black community?$$Well, the, the prospects or the opportunity for the black community was very, very, very positive, I think. We could all move ahead. And there were a lot of things that Harold wanted to do in the community that meant some, some positive activities for the black community. And--$$I know, we were talking about the day that Harold died. That's what it was, and your personal reflections of that day? What happened?$$That was a very emotional time when they called me up and told me to get over to the Civic Center, over to the Daley Plaza. And I asked them, why? They said the mayor just died. And, of course, I just put up--it was a tough time for me because I was very tied to Harold. He was a very, very close friend of mine. And I went over to the Daley Center, and I think I was there, [Timothy C.] Tim Evans and Larry Bloom--let's see, who else was there? There were 4 or 5--Tim Wright was there. There were 4 or 5 people in there, you know. And we, we were trying to make contact with the hospital. And the information we had gotten was that they wanted--there wasn't anything definite yet. So I got a call from Ed Burke. And he told me the mayor had died. I said, well, how do you know? He said, well, the fireman told me. I said, well, that's not what I'm getting. He said, well, that's what I got. And we went on, went back in the room. And finally we got the call that he really had passed. It was a very emotional thing. So we all just got together and said a prayer and left, went back to the offices. And there was a lot of activities happening and the guys in the city hall was suggesting that we do this and that. I said, look, man, we ain't gonna do nothing. Well, we're just gonna go back down to the council floor and say a prayer for the mayor's family and for the mayor, and that's it. And that was my suggestion that we do that. And, of course, we did that. And there--not to my knowledge, some of the other members were calling for a special meeting, which I didn't really want. But they called it anyway. And then we went into a meeting, and we went to that, beginning of that long night. And it wasn't a pleasant time at all.$$Now, just to put it in perspective, time wise, the death of Mayor Washington occurred on, it was a weekday, right?$$Um-hum.$$Was it on a Tuesday or--cause it was just before Thanksgiving, right?$$Right.$$It was a--was it the Wednesday before Thanksgiving?$$I don't--$$Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday so I'm trying to remember.$$It must have been a Tuesday, I think.$$And, cause his body laid in state for all of Thanksgiving, I think.$$Um-hm.

Julius Chambers

Born in Mount Gilead, North Carolina, in 1936, veteran civil rights lawyer, activist and educator Julius L. Chambers was influenced by the racial intolerance he saw growing up in a rural community east of Charlotte. After graduating from high school in 1954, he entered North Carolina Central University, where he graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in history and was president of the student body. He then attended the University of Michigan, earning an M.A. in history. Chambers began law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1959, where he became the first African American editor-in-chief of the school’s law review. Upon graduating in 1962, Chambers ranked first in his class of 100 students. He went on to earn his LL.M. from Columbia University Law School in 1964.

Chambers became the first intern with the new NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF) in 1963. Subsequently, in June 1964, he opened his own practice in Charlotte, which eventually became the first integrated law firm in North Carolina. Together with his founding partners, James E. Ferguson II and Adam Stein, this firm is credited with influencing more landmark state and federal legislation in school desegregation, employment and voting rights than any other in the United States. Together with lawyers of the LDF, they helped shape civil rights law by winning benchmark United States Supreme Court rulings such as the famous decision of Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (1971), which led to federally mandated busing, helping integrate public schools across the country. Chambers and his team also won in two of the Supreme Court’s most monumental Title VII employment discrimination decisions, Griggs v. Duke Power Co. (1971) and Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody (1974).

In 1984, Chambers left his firm to become director-counsel of the LDF. Under Chambers' leadership, the organization fought for civil rights legislation and affirmative action programs that began in the 1970s and 1980s. Remaining devoted to education, however, he returned to his alma mater, North Carolina Central University, where he served as chancellor for eight years. Chambers published numerous books, teaches at various law schools, and was a member of many boards and organizations.

Chambers passed away on August 2, 2013 at age 76.

Accession Number

A2002.220

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/6/2002

Last Name

Chambers

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

North Carolina Central University

University of Michigan

First Name

Julius

Birth City, State, Country

Mount Gilead

HM ID

CHA04

Favorite Season

Summer

Sponsor

Knight Foundation

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

Don't Have A Heart Attack.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

10/6/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Charlotte

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Death Date

8/2/2013

Short Description

Civil rights lawyer Julius Chambers (1936 - 2013 ) worked on the benchmark Supreme Court case, Swann vs. Charlotte Board of Education.

Employment

Ferguson Stein Chambers Gresham & Sumter PA

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense Fund

North Carolina Central University

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Black, Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Julius Chambers' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Julius Chambers lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Julius Chambers describes his family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Julius Chambers describes his father's occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Julius Chambers describes race relations in Mt. Gilead, Montgomery County, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Julius Chambers describes how his father obtained a concession to sell gasoline and oil in Montgomery County, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Julius Chambers talks about his mother and siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Julius Chambers describes his childhood community of Montgomery County, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Julius Chambers describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Julius Chambers describes the role of baseball and softball in Montgomery County, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Julius Chambers describes his childhood interests and activities

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Julius Chambers describes his experiences in school

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Julius Chambers talks about the teachers who influenced him as a youth

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Julius Chambers describes his extracurricular activities at Peabody High School in Montgomery County, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Julius Chambers describes the development of his personality

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Julius Chambers talks about the history of North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Julius Chambers compares North Carolina Central University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill during the 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Julius Chambers talks about the professors who influenced him at North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Julius Chambers describes why he attended the University of Michigan for graduate school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Julius Chambers compares the University of Michigan and North Carolina Central University

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Julius Chambers describes racial tensions at the University of Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Julius Chambers describes anti-discrimination lawsuits against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of North Carolina School of Law in the 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Julius Chambers talks about North Carolina's reputation as a progressive state

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Julius Chambers talks about Henry P. Brandis, Jr., Dean of University of North Carolina School of Law from 1949-1964

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Julius Chambers describes his experiences attending the University of North Carolina School of Law

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Julius Chambers talks about being drafted for service in the U.S. Navy Reserves

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Julius Chambers talks about accepting an internship with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Julius Chambers describes how he met Thurgood Marshall and Jack Greenberg

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Julius Chambers describes the Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education case, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Julius Chambers describes the Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education case, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Julius Chambers comments on the problems with the school busing system

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Julius Chambers talks about the cultural benefits of integrated schools

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Julius Chambers talks about "white flight" from integrated school systems

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Julius Chambers describes the Griggs v. Duke Power Co. case

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Julius Chambers describes the lawsuit the NAACP Legal Defense Fund filed against Moore's Barbecue in New Bern, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Julius Chambers talks about his car being bombed in 1964

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Julius Chambers describes the NAACP Legal Defense Fund's lawsuit against Durham County Schools

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Julius Chambers describes how legislation helped shape peoples' attitudes towards race

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Julius Chambers talks about cases that were meaningful during his career

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Julius Chambers describes why he accepted a position as Chancellor of North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Julius Chambers describes being the Director-Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Julius Chambers talks about the University of North Carolina School of Law Center for Civil Rights in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Julius Chambers comments on the contemporary crisis of Civil Rights

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Julius Chambers talks about the George W. Bush Administration's failure to uphold the U.S. Constitution

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Julius Chambers reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Julius Chambers talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Julius Chambers talks about applying for a seat on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and running for public office

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Julius Chambers talks about contemporary Civil Rights law

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

1$3

DATitle
Julius Chambers describes how he met Thurgood Marshall and Jack Greenberg
Julius Chambers describes the Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education case, pt. 2
Transcript
Okay. Sir, how did you meet Thurgood Marshall and Jack Greenberg?$$Well I met them through Kelly Alexander who used to be President of the North Carolina branch, or conference of branches of the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People]. I was elected as editor in chief of the North Carolina Law Review and that made the press around the country and I received a call from Kelly about coming to work or doing some with the NAACP and then later through some calls that he had made, I received a call from Jack Greenberg about a meeting with them to talk about coming to work with the Legal Defense Fund. And then I was invited to meet with them in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania] at the annual meeting of the NAACP and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. And I met Thurgood and Jack at that time and we talked about my interest in coming with the Legal Defense Fund and I was elated and agreed to do it.$And Darius [Swann] as a minister didn't have to worry about that so he was the lead plaintiff in the case and it became known as Swann. And we began litigating the case and collecting the information and we had an initial row with Judge Braxton Craven [J. Braxton Craven, Jr.] who really didn't want to force communities to do very much, but who wanted to be fair in what he was doing, but he felt in the initial round which was '65 [1965] or something that it was sufficient if the board adopted a plan that allowed people to voluntarily integrate rather than being forced to integrate. And we appealed that decision to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals which affirmed because the Fourth Circuit was also pretty conservative at the time and we decided not to try to get a review in the Supreme Court at that time because the Supreme Court was not taking many school cases anyway and we waited another year or two. In the meantime Judge Craven was elevated to the Fourth Circuit and Judge McMillan [James Bryan McMillan] was appointed to replace him and we--additionally the Supreme Court had decided two cases that suggested the school districts had to achieve the greatest degree of desegregation and they had to do it now. And we went back to court seeking additional relief arguing that the plan that the court had approved didn't comply with what the Supreme Court had subsequently directed. And we really went out and got some evidence about how segregation was perpetuated by the school district and how segregation was adversely affecting the black students particularly. And that moved Judge McMillan to direct more relief for the black plaintiffs and to impose a busing requirement in order to achieve a greater degree of desegregation. And that went up to the Fourth Circuit and then to the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed and we had the famous busing case as they call it. In the meantime, we had a lot of changes in the community that helped to promote further integration in the schools and a better relationship, I believe, among people in the community.$$Okay. So this case persuaded the Supreme Court that busing is an acceptable way to integrate the schools basically?$$Yeah, I like to put it differently that it persuaded the Supreme Court that in order to disestablish the effects of segregation, school districts had to do more than simply adopt some racially neutral plan. They really had to move forward and implement a plan that would promote integration including busing of students or pairing or clustering of school zones and because it was possible to get a greater degree of racial mixing through use of some of these other interventions like busing, like clustering school districts. And the court said that that was appropriate and was required in order to disestablish the effects of past segregation.

The Honorable Marion Barry

Marion Barry was born in Itta Bena, Mississippi on March 6, 1936. From an impoverished family, he went on to become a vigorous civil rights activist and served four terms as Mayor of the District of Columbia. Barry grew up in Memphis, where he attended Booker T. Washington High School. During the City's 1958 bus desegregation drive, Barry received his first taste of public confrontation and media notoriety. Subsequently, he abandoned his doctoral studies in Chemistry at the University of Tennessee to join the civil rights movement full-time. Barry was elected the first chairman of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and moved to Washington, D.C. in 1965 to open a local chapter. He never left.

Barry quickly became a formidable politician in the nation's capital. In 1971, he was elected to serve on the city's first school board. Three years later, when Congress allowed local elections, Barry won a seat on the District of Columbia City Council. As the second elected mayor of Washington, D.C., Barry was known for building coalitions with marginalized populations, including African Americans, women and the LGBT community. Barry held that office for twelve years, until a misdemeanor drug conviction forced him to step down. After a brief hiatus, Barry made a triumphant return to political office when he won back a seat on the City Council. In 1994, enthusiastic supporters reelected Barry as mayor in a landslide victory. Barry resided in Washington, D.C. with his wife Cora.

Barry passed away on November 23, 2014 at age 78.

Accession Number

A2000.005

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

8/7/2000

Last Name

Barry

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Booker T. Washington High School

LeMoyne-Owen College

Fisk University

University of Tennesee

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Marion

Birth City, State, Country

Itta Bena

HM ID

BAR04

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

3/6/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Death Date

11/23/2014

Short Description

Mayor Marion Barry (1936 - 2014 ) was a Mayor of Washington D.C., a member of the Council of the District of Columbia, and the first chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Employment

District of Columbia Government

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)

District of Columbia

Favorite Color

Burgundy

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marion Barry interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marion Barry's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Marion Barry describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marion Barry talks about his family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marion Barry talks about losing touch with his father at an early age

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Marion Barry talks about his siblings and their families

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Marion Barry describes growing up in Itta Bena, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Marion Barry explains why he moved to Memphis as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Marion Barry describes living in Memphis as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Marion Barry talks about odd jobs he worked in his youth

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Marion Barry talks about how his personality changed as a youth

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Marion Barry talks about how Scouting influenced him as a youth

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Marion Barry describes his educational experience

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Marion Barry says his mother complained about her domestic work

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Marion Barry talks about some of his friends from high school

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marion Barry describes his leisure time during high school

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marion Barry talks about his decision to attend LeMoyne College

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marion Barry says his family supported his decision to attend college

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marion Barry recalls becoming an activist at LeMoyne College

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marion Barry describes the segregation in Memphis, Tennesse during the 1940s and 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marion Barry is unsure why he became active at LeMoyne College

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marion Barry describes speaking at a rally headed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marion Barry talks about his admiration for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Marion Barry talks about the founding of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Marion Barry describes working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Marion Barry discusses the philosophy and strategies of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marion Barry gives his first impression of Washington, D.C. on his arrival in 1965

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marion Barry talks about his social work with African American youth in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marion Barry talks about his work as president of Washington, D.C.'s Board of Education

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marion Barry talks about making social improvements while serving on the City Council of Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marion Barry talks about appointing minorities to city government positions when he was mayor of Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marion Barry explains why he ran for the Washington, D.C. school board

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Marion Barry says that his mathematical aptitude and good memory helped him as a politician

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Marion Barry describes how his belief in the political system changed over time

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Marion Barry talks about being shot in the chest in 1977

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Marion Barry talks about his past endorsements from the 'Washington Post'

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Marion Barry describes his first successful mayoral campaign

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Marion Barry explains that his politics are based on empowerment

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Marion Barry talks about his relationship with the black middle class

Tape: 3 Story: 14 - Marion Barry talks about coping with the difficult nature of political office

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marion Barry talks about his relationship with white voters

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marion Barry talks about the influence of African American politicians

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marion Barry shares some regrets about his time as Mayor of Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marion Barry discusses Washington D.C's relationship with the federal government

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marion Barry says he never stopped working hard as Mayor of Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marion Barry discusses the Ivanhoe Donaldson embezzlement scandal

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marion Barry reflects on sex and drug scandals during his time as Mayor of Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Marion Barry describes how incarceration helped him overcome his drug problems and continue in politics

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Marion Barry talks about his last term as Mayor of Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Marion Barry talks about his future career plans

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Marion Barry discusses political and economic empowerment for African Americans

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marion Barry talks about his hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marion Barry does not regret his decision not to pursue a career in science

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marion Barry disagrees with those who have called him an embarrassment

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marion Barry sympathizes with President Bill Clinton

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marion Barry discusses his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marion Barry says what it means to be black in America

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Marion Barry explains the uniqueness of African Americans

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Marion Barry explains why he favors reparations for slavery

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Marion Barry talks about the importance of the HistoryMakers project

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Photo - Marion Barry at his mayoral inauguration parade in Washington D.C., January, 1979

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Photo - Marion Barry's mother, Mattie Cummings, 1994

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Photo - A young Marion Barry supporter, 1992-1994

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Photo - Marion Barry in a Martin Luther King Day parade, Washington, D.C., January, 1993

Tape: 5 Story: 14 - Photo - Marion Barry at a rally in Nigeria, 1992-1993

Tape: 5 Story: 15 - Photo - Marion Barry with firefighters at his city council inauguration, Washington, D.C., January, 1993

Tape: 5 Story: 16 - Photo - Marion Barry with son Christopher and friends

Tape: 5 Story: 17 - Photo - Marion Barry with fellow city council members, Washington, D.C., January, 1993

Tape: 5 Story: 18 - Photo - Marion Barry with his son Christopher with rap artist M.C. Hammer, ca. 1993

Tape: 5 Story: 19 - Photo - Marion Barry, his wife, Cora, and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton at the White House, Washington, D.C., 1994

Tape: 5 Story: 20 - Photo - Marion Barry with President Bill Clinton at the White House, Washington, D.C., 1993

Tape: 5 Story: 21 - Photo - Marion Barry meeting with local businessmen Washington, D.C., 1996

Tape: 5 Story: 22 - Photo - Collage made by a neighborhood group of Marion Barry with his son, Christopher Barry, Washington, D.C., ca. 1995

Tape: 5 Story: 23 - Photo - Marion Barry, Jerry Rawlings, President of Ghana, and their spouses, Washington, D.C., 1997

Tape: 5 Story: 24 - Photo - Marion Barry shaking hands with Judge Eugene Hamilton at his mayoral inauguration breakfast, Washington, D.C., 1995

Tape: 5 Story: 25 - Photo - Marion Barry presenting Dorothy Height of the National Council of Negro Women with a key to the city, Washington, D.C., 1996

Tape: 5 Story: 26 - Photo - Dorothy Height speaking at the opening of the National Council of Negro Women headquarters, Washington, D.C., 1996

Tape: 5 Story: 27 - Photo - Marion Barry and his wife attend a luncheon at the South African Embassy with Nelson Mandela, Washington, D.C., 1994

Tape: 5 Story: 28 - Photo - Marion Barry is sworn in as a member of the City Council, Washington, D.C., January, 1993

Tape: 5 Story: 29 - Photo - Marion Barry interviewed by radio host Tom Joyner, 1996

Tape: 5 Story: 30 - Photo - Marion Barry being greeted during his visit to the Ivory Coast, 1997

Tape: 5 Story: 31 - Photo - Marion Barry being greeted during his visit to Guinea, 1997

Tape: 5 Story: 32 - Photo - Marion Barry speaks while his mother, Mattie Cummings, and sister Gloria look on, 1995