Civil Rights Attorney Julius Chambers Dies

His law firm won eight Supreme Court cases, including Charlotte, N.C.'s school busing case.

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Julius Chambers (Wikimedia Commons)

Julius Chambers, a Charlotte, N.C., civil rights attorney who successfully brought eight cases before the Supreme Court, died Friday at age 76, the Associated Press reports. Chambers, a former director-counsel and president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, was chancellor of North Carolina Central University from 1993 to 2001. He is survived by two children, three grandchildren and a brother.

In 1964, Mr. Chambers opened the practice that became the state’s first integrated law firm. The Charlotte Observer reported that Mr. Chambers took eight cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and won them all, including the Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education school busing case.

The 1971 Supreme Court ruling in Swann mandated crosstown busing and highlighted the power of federal courts to intervene when public school systems hedged en route to full integration. 

“Chambers probably, being one of those lawyers rooted in the South, was able to see the inequities more clearly because they were so stark here in the late ’60s and ’70s,” Geraldine Sumter, a law partner at Mr. Chambers’s firm, said.

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