Julius LeVonne Chambers (1936-2013)

Julius L. Chambers receiving The University Award

Julius L. Chambers receiving The University Award from Benjamin Ruffin, Chairman of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, along with President of the University Molly Broad. Morton likely made the photograph during a banquet held on 8 November 2001. (Photographic negative —one of two—was labeled “Julius Chambers University Award”; persons in photograph identified and image cropped by author, and the date of the banquet comes from a program in the University Archives.)

Last Friday saw the passing of noted civil rights attorney Julius Chambers.  Chambers received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1962, graduating first in his class.  In 1964, he opened the state’s first integrated law firm in Charlotte. In 1965 he filed a desegregation lawsuit that became known as Swann vs. the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education.  The case rose to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor, in 1971.  The court’s decision led to the use of school busing as a vehicle to integrate schools nationwide.  Chambers would come to argue seven additional cases before the United States Supreme court, winning each time.

In 2001 the University of North Carolina Board of Governors honored Chambers with “The University Award” which Hugh Morton photographed.  The award recognizes the “illustrious service to higher education” and is the highest distinction of this nature that the university bestows.

An interesting side note: Hugh and Julia Morton received The University Award in 2003.

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