National Bar Association, 1225 11th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
August 13, 2007
Legendary Civil Rights Attorney, Oliver W. Hill, Dies At 100 Years Old
WASHINGTON, DC - Oliver W. Hill passed away at his Richmond, VA home due to an ailment
of the heart on Sunday, August 5th. Hill was well known and widely respected for
his many contributions to the Civil Rights movement.
"Although his death is a tremendous loss to the National Bar Association, and humanity
as a whole, there is much to celebrate about his life, in particular the many contributions
that he made promoting social change and equality." said National Bar Association
President, Vanita M. Banks.
A graduate of Howard University Law School, Hill graduated at the top of his class,
coming in second to none other than his colleague and good friend, Thurgood Marshall.
After law school, Hill returned to his native Richmond, where he became the first
black person elected to the City Council since 1898. Shortly thereafter, Hill lead
his legal team in the case Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County,
VA., which challenged "separate but equal" as it applied to public schools. This
landmark case was one of five cases that the Supreme Court combined in its Brown
v. Board of Education decision in 1954, citing the segregation of public schools
as unconstitutional. Hill was an undaunted figure in his battle for equality, with
his legal team filing more civil rights cases in the state of Virginia than all other
southern states combined with more than 75 cases pending at one time. He filed many
suits in the state to bring about change in such areas as voting rights, jury selection,
access to school buses and employment protection.
In 1961 former President, John F. Kennedy invited Mr. Hill to serve at the Federal
Housing Administration as the Assistant Commissioner. In 1999, just one year after
retiring from practice, former President, Bill Clinton presented Mr. Hill with the
nation's highest civilian honor, The Presidential Medal of Freedom. And in 2004,
the National Bar Association paid a special tribute to Mr. Hill during the Twenty-Fourth
Annual Mid-Year Conference. Also honored that day were Dr. Dorothy Height and Congressman
John R. Lewis. The elegant commemoration of the Brown case was held in the same Supreme
Court building where the groundbreaking verdict was handed down fifty years earlier.
Hill was an active officer and/ or member of many distinguished legal organizations
such as, the NAACP, the Southern Conference for Legal Welfare, the National Association
for Intergroup Relations Officials, the Virginia State Bar - Bench Bar Relations
Committee, the Old-Dominion Bar Association which he co-founded, and the National
Bar Association which inducted Hill into their Hall of Fame in 1986.
"Hill was an esteemed life member of the National Bar Association. Throughout his
life, he received several of the association's highest honors, including the Wiley
A. Branton Award and the Gertrude E. Rush Award. On behalf of the NBA, I extend our
heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones." said President Banks.
Virginia governor, Tim McCain has ordered flags across the state lowered to half
staff, in Hill's honor and commented, "His life's work was predicated on the simple
truth that all men and women truly are created equal."
Mr. Hill's body will lie in state at the Virginia Governor's mansion this Saturday
and a Memorial Service will be held on Sunday, August 12, 2007. Both the viewing
and the Memorial Service will be open to the public.