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Post Foundation "Luminary" award
awarded to Julius Chambers For ‘Lifetime Achievement’
Published Sunday, September 14, 2008
by Ellison Clary, For The Foundation

CHARLOTTE – The Charlotte Post Foundation will honor Charlotte attorney Julius L. Chambers, nationally known for his role in school desegregation, with its “Luminary – Lifetime Achievement” award in September.

The award is the highlight of the Bank of America “Post Best” banquet put on for the 12th year by The Charlotte Post newspaper. The Luminary – Lifetime Achievement award is sponsored by Lance Corporation. Wachovia sponsors the “teacher of the year” honor.

This year’s banquet will be September 20 at the Westin Hotel on South College Street, adjacent to the Charlotte Convention Center.

Chambers, whose US Supreme Court victory in “Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education” led to federally mandated busing to help integrate public schools in Charlotte and across the country, continues to practice law at the firm he founded in the 1960s.

That firm, Ferguson, Stein, Chambers, Gresham & Sumter, P.A., was the first integrated law practice in North Carolina.

“I am thrilled the Foundation is honoring Mr. Chambers,” said Gerald Johnson, publisher of The Charlotte Post weekly newspaper and president of the Foundation. “This community has his imprints all over it. He has touched the lives, both directly and indirectly, of so many of us that it is past time we say thank you.”

The Post Foundation is part of The Charlotte Post newspaper. The Foundation provides college scholarships for deserving African-American students in the Charlotte area with proceeds from the Charlotte’s Best banquet.

The Charlotte Post Foundation has expanded its focus to concentrate on systematic problems that impede education for African-American students. Helping the Foundation gather information about the problems is the Institute for Social Capital at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

A report from The Charlotte Post Foundation on its progress in the last year will be presented at the banquet.

The Wachovia Teacher of the Year is Sophia Jackson, who teaches English at the International Studies School at Garinger High School. 

In keeping with tradition, two African-American high school seniors will receive Post Foundation scholarships to the college of their choice. This year’s winners are Anthony McClenny of Zebulon B. Vance High School and Brandon Hill of Harding University High School.

Chambers, 72, grew up in Mount Gilead, NC, and graduated Summa Cum Laude from North Carolina Central University where he earned a bachelor’s in History. He got a master’s in History at the University of Michigan, then entered the University of North Carolina School of Law where he became the first African-American editor-in-chief of the law review. He graduated first in his class of 100, then completed his Master of Laws at Columbia University.

In June 1964, he opened his Charlotte law practice in a cold-water walkup on East Trade Street. It became the first integrated law firm in North Carolina when James E. Ferguson II and Adam Stein joined him.

Besides the landmark school busing case of 1971, Chambers won two important employment discrimination decisions by the US Supreme Court in “Griggs v. Duke Power Co.” and “Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody.”

Chambers was one of three lawyers who argued “Shaw v. Hunt,” the case in which the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of two North Carolina congressional districts redrawn after the 1990 census according to provisions in the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 1999, the Supreme Court sustained these districts which have allowed the first African-American Congressional representatives from North Carolina since reconstruction.

In the 1980s, Chambers served as the third director-counsel of the Legal Defense Fund, following Thurgood Marshall and Jack Greenberg. He returned to North Carolina in 1993 to become chancellor of North Carolina Central University. He retired from that post in 2001.

Today, Chambers works in the Charlotte law firm he founded, concentrating on business, employment discrimination, education and civil rights. He is also clinical professor of law and director of the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina School of Law.


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