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Rep. John Lewis Comments on the Death of Famed Civil Rights Lawyer Oliver Hill

August 16, 2007
Press Release

“The victory that was won on May 17, 1954, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided the Brown v. Board of Education case was the beginning, in many ways, of the modern-day Civil Rights Movement.  I remember I was only 14-years-old then, attending a segregated school in rural Alabama.  I had to use the hand-me-down books and ride to school on a dilapidated school bus passed the closer and better maintained white public schools.  When I heard about the Brown decision, I really believed that the very next day everything in my world would change.


“I never dreamed it would take years of determined, persistent challenge by a visionary lawyer like Oliver Hill to make that decision stick.  He and his colleagues at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund took the struggle for justice out of the streets and brought it into the courtroom.  Through their work, they wrestled with the conscience of a nation and helped redeem the soul of America.  I can think of no greater accomplishment for a litigator than that.  The brilliant, intelligent, strategic, and visionary work of Oliver Hill changed this nation forever. He made a lasting contribution to our democracy and moved this nation a great distance down the road toward building the Beloved Community, a nation and a world at peace with itself.”