I have just received an email from my dean, Jack Boger, delivering the sad news that civil rights hero Julius Chambers has passed away. I want to present just a few of the highlights of his extraordinary career.
Chambers graduated first in his class from UNC in 1962, where he was also editor-in-chief of the North Carolina Law Review. He went on to study and teach at Columbia Law School, then began working for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. In 1964 he returned to Charlotte where he founded what became the first integrated law firm in the south. He litigated major cases including Swann v. Charlotte‑Mecklenburg Board of Education (1971), Griggs v. Duke Power Co. (1971) and Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody (1974). In 1984, Chambers became Director - Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in New York City. During his time at the NAACP he had argued and won a unanimous decision in a key Voting Rights Act case, Thornberg v. Gingles, 478 U.S. 30 (1986).
Almost a decade later, Julius Chambers returned to North Carolina to become Chancellor of his alma mater, North Carolina Central University. In 1995 he was one of three lawyers who argued Shaw v. Hunt, 517 U.S. 899 (1996). In 2001 Julius retired as Chancellor of North Carolina Central University and shortly thereafter become the inaugural director of the UNC Center for Civil Rights. He was a real hero and role model for faculty and students and I am very sorry to hear about his passing.