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Stanley Tolliver, Sr.

Attorney, community activist, and media personality, Stanley Eugene Tolliver, Sr., was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on October 29, 1925, the only child of Eugene and Edna Tolliver. Tolliver graduated from East Technical High School in 1944, and earned his bachelor’s degree from Baldwin-Wallace College in 1948. Tolliver completed his legal education at Cleveland Marshall School of Law, earning his LLB degree in 1951, his LLD degree in 1968, and his J.D. degree in 1969.

After completing his LLB degree, Tolliver served in the U. S. Army Counterintelligence Corps from 1951 through 1953, and then passed the bar exam while in the army in 1953. Tolliver was admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1977. Tolliver served as legal counsel for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC); and the Congress of Racial Equality; he was also the only African American attorney involved in the defense of the students charged in the Kent State University anti-Vietnam War protest in the 1970s.

Tolliver joined other Ohioans in leading the call for the desegregation of the Cleveland Public Schools. After the state and local boards of education were found guilty of operating a segregated school system in Cleveland, the presiding jurist in the case, Federal Judge Frank J. Battisti, appointed Tolliver to committees on office and school monitoring, and community relations in 1978. Tolliver was first elected to membership on the Cleveland Board of Education in 1981; his twelve years of service on the board included two terms as board president.

Tolliver was the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Outstanding Alumnus Award from Baldwin-Wallace College in 1978, and the NAACP (Cleveland Chapter) Freedom Award in 2000. An avid runner since high school, Tolliver was inducted into the East Technical High School’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1978. Tolliver was also a life member of the NAACP, and the host of a popular weekly radio show, Conversations with Stanley E. Tolliver, Sr.

Tolliver was married to the late Dorothy Olivia Greenwood Tolliver for fifty years; the couple raised three children: Stephanie, Sherrie, and Stanley, Jr. Tolliver passed away on January 3, 2010.

Accession Number

A2005.138

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/16/2005

Last Name

Tolliver

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Eugene

Schools

East Technical High School

Balwin Wallace University

Cleveland-Marshall College of Law

Rawlings Junior High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Stanley

Birth City, State, Country

Cleveland

HM ID

TOL02

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

San Francisco, California

Favorite Quote

The Struggle Continues.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Interview Description
Birth Date

10/29/1925

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Cleveland

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Chitterlings

Death Date

1/3/2011

Short Description

Civil rights lawyer and radio host Stanley Tolliver, Sr. (1925 - 2011 ) served as legal counsel for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Congress of Racial Equality. He was also the only African American attorney involved in the defense of the students charged in the Kent State University anti-Vietnam War protest.

Employment

WERE-AM Radio

Counter Intelligence Corps

Congress On Racial Equality

Stanley E. Tolliver & Associates

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313871">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Stanley Tolliver, Sr.'s interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313872">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313873">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313874">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313875">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes his parents' move to Cleveland, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313876">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes his father's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313877">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. explains why his family's surname changed</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313878">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. recalls his early interest in African American history</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313879">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/395547">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes his father's personality</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/395548">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes his musical interests</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/395549">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes his drama activities at Baldwin-Wallace College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/395550">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes his publications and the Scrumpy-Dump Cinema</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/395551">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. recalls his teachers at Quincy School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/395552">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. recalls his teachers at Rawlings Junior High School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/395553">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. remembers boxing during his childhood in Cleveland, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/395554">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. recalls a performance by Paul Robeson and Mary McLeod Bethune</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/310158">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes the employment discrimination he faced during college</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/310159">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. recalls his time at Baldwin-Wallace College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/310160">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes Harrison Dillard and Jesse Owens</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/310161">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes his time at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/310162">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. recalls his time in the U.S. Army during the Korean War</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/310163">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes how he met his wife</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/310164">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. recalls the people he met at Karamu House</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/310165">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. talks about his wife and three children</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313880">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes opportunities for African American servicemen</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313881">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. reflects upon discrimination in the U.S. Military</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313882">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes his court-martial cases</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313883">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. reflects upon segregation within the U.S. military</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313884">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. talks about representing the Congress of Racial Equality</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313885">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. recalls opening his first law office in Cleveland, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313886">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes his early civil rights and police brutality cases, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313887">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes his early civil rights and police brutality cases, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313888">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. recalls Fred Ahmed Evans' arrest and trial in 1967</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313889">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes the Glenville shootout of 1968</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313890">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes the aftermath of the Glenville shootout</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313891">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. remembers Fred Ahmed Evans' conviction and death</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313892">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes challenges he faced as a civil rights attorney</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313893">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes his affirmative action cases</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313894">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. recalls serving on Cleveland's Board of Education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313895">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. recalls the desegregation of Cleveland public schools</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313896">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. reflects upon his accomplishments as school board president</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313897">Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes his campaign for school board president</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313898">Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes the advantages of busing, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313899">Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes the advantages of busing, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313900">Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes some of Cleveland's school superintendents</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313901">Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. reflects upon the end of busing in Cleveland, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313902">Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes his relationship with HistoryMaker George Forbes</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313903">Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. reflects upon the state of Cleveland's public schools</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313904">Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes school funding issues in Cleveland, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313905">Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. shares his thoughts about Cleveland's government</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313906">Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. reflects upon the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 1954</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313907">Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. reflects upon job opportunities for African Americans</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313908">Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313909">Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/309554">Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. shares his concerns for young African Americans, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/309555">Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. shares his concerns for young African Americans, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/309556">Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. explains the importance of African American role models</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/309557">Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. recalls a trial in Newton, Mississippi</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/309558">Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. talks about reparations and voting rights</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/309559">Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. narrates his photographs, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/309560">Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. narrates his photographs, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/309561">Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. narrates his photographs, pt. 3</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/309562">Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Stanley Tolliver, Sr. narrates his photographs, pt. 4</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

4$2

DATitle
Stanley Tolliver, Sr. reflects upon segregation within the U.S. military
Stanley Tolliver, Sr. reflects upon his accomplishments as school board president
Transcript
So, and I saw there be--wonderful opportunities in there. I mean, blacks was doing some things that they had never done before and because of the [U.S.] military. It was a wonderful opportunity for 'em. Not for me. But, for them. That was Harry Truman [President Harry S. Truman] who signed that integration order and things have changed in the military. And, even when I was on the school board [Board of Education, Cleveland Metropolitan School District], I had some opposition to them recruiting in the schools, you know. And, these captains and these colonels, all black, came to me, talked to me about the [U.S.] Army and the mil--and then ha--listen, it was tremendous opportunities in the military. It's not as segregated as it was. 'Cause I remember when I went south the first time, my aunt took me south, the black soldiers were on one train, on one, and the blacks, and the whites were on another. And, white people was on the air conditioned, and the blacks was on the ones that you open up the window all the soot came in (laughter). And, the white folks was in air conditioned cars. And, the soldiers were in air conditioned cars. And, black soldiers and white soldiers, even when I was in, they tried to make a prison guard out of me. And, they told me that if any of 'em got out, I would have to serve the time. I said, "Well, put me in there, 'cause I'm not gonna shoot one of these guys. He needs the Army just like I do." And, it was so prejudice down there in Virginia that they had a photographer shop and they even segregated the pictures. That's how bad it was. And, up in Indiana you talk about a prejudice place. Up there in Terre Haute, Indiana. That's where you had to change trains. You had to sit in the buzzards roost; black soldiers, I mean, black folks. My uniform--and I didn't wanna sit up there. But, Dorothy [Dorothy Greenwood Tolliver], my wife, said, "Now, if you get put in jail and I'm out here by myself." 'Cause I had a, you know, I was a kind, and I can tell you this real quick about Martin Luther King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.]. I loved that man. But, I'll never forget it, we was at a meeting at St. James Church [St. James Cathedral, Chicago, Illinois] and Martin Luther King was speaking. And, he said in his melodious voice, "Now, what we have the demonstration, it's understood that Attorney Tolliver [HistoryMaker Stanley Tolliver, Sr.] is not to participate. Because we do not want the movement compromised. We know how Attorney Tolliver is, and how can he represent us if he's in jail." I said, "You're right, Dr." 'Cause if one of those cops had reached for me, the movement was over. I was not gonna turn the other cheek. So, the fact that I was a lawyer got me off of that. I could stay there and represent everybody else. But, I was not gone--and that's why I say, "That man, I will never be the giant that he was." I just don't see how in the world he could take what he took. I couldn't do it. I just couldn't do it. But, I respected and admired him because the man lived what he preached, and he preached, what he said, he meant. And, I was just fascinated. He and I would have long conversations, okay. Even Ahmed Evans [Fred Ahmed Evans], he, he, now he just capitali--he just captivated Ahmed. Ahmed was just like a little puppy dog around him. You see that picture of him and Ahmed together. But, when they killed Ahmed that's--I mean, when they killed King, Ahmed went berserk.$But, my main thing was, I'll always will be proud of my record on the school board [Board of Education, Cleveland Metropolitan School District]. The kids that I helped--I-she [Artha Woods] and I can be out, and somebody a come up and say, "Do you know you spoke at my graduation?" Or, somebody that I represented and I give 'em the devil. See, I raise all kind of--with these kids; tell 'em how stupid they are, you know. Compare them with, what's her name; Martha Stewart. You know, you got this little chump change and you're going to prison for twenty-five years for this chump change. That woman stole millions and only got six months in jail. I say, "You see how stupid you are?" You know, that's the way I talk. But, anyway, I worked with these parents and one thing I started and Jean, what's a name; Fannie Lewis, it started in her school each time. I was the one that started having these nurseries put in the schools for these pregnant girls, so they could go to school. And, the preachers and everybody got on me. Oh, man, you--I said, "Now, what do you wanna do? Throw these girls out in the street? They made a mistake. They got pregnant. Men make mistakes, they don't get pregnant." I said, "Now, what do you wanna do, throw these girls away?" And, many a girl came up was pregnant and I give 'em their diploma. And, would tell 'em, I said, "Now, I'm gonna tell you just like I told my daughters [Stephanie Tolliver and Sherrie Tolliver]." I said, "Hold your head up and keep you dress down, here," (laughter). And, for you boys, "It take any male can make a baby, but it takes a man to raise and make something out of 'em. And, if somebody raising your child and you're not there, you have prostituted your manhood." And, they love me. In fact, when they had time to--when they would talk about speakers from the board, everybody wanted me. The other board members would get jealous 'cause I was the one always demanded, see. So, I was always fighting for these kids. I didn't like the way they were being treated. I didn't like the way the media was doing 'em. And, we used to employ more black people in this town than any other in the state, in the state, except for the federal government. That's how many black folks. And, I mean, we enforced that. 'Cause if you didn't live in this district, you didn't--you couldn't get the job. And, if we found out that you were living one place and working here, you lost your job. And, many a black would come to me. I say, "I can't help you brother. I can't help you sister" (laughter). Because this is for people who live here, and you don't live here. And, you lied and said you did. So, you know, people don't--you know, you get a reputation, you know. But, I fought for these kids, see. I remember some parents got on my case, "Oh, Tol--Mr. Tolliver [HistoryMaker Stanley Tolliver, Sr.], what you gonna do about babies having babies? Yeah, what y'all gonna do?" And, they were just kicking, some of these parents. I said, "Now, first of all, if you stop kicking, I'll answer your questions. Where you get that y'all stuff? These are your children. Where you get that y'all stuff?" I said, "Our job is not to raise 'em. Our job is to teach 'em. You send them with the right attitude and they don't get taught, then we're responsible. But, if they come to school with the wrong attitude and they don't come at all, then that's your fault." And, I said, "I'm gonna leave with something else with you." They say, "What?" I said, "Kids don't get pregnant in school, hear (laughter)." So, they didn't like that. And, unlike Jane Campbell, I always would say, when something happens, "The buck stops here." I don't put it off on somebody. I'm the president. The buck stops here. While I was on the school board; the buck stops here. We're not putting off on somebody else. And, I was elected four times and had no money.