Civil rights pioneer Oliver W. Hill Sr. has died in Richmond at 100 years old and will lie in state at the Executive Mansion on Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. Governor Kaine has ordered the state flag to be flown at half-staff statewide until sunset Sunday.
Hill was the lead attorney on Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, Va., one of the five cases that the Supreme Court combined into Brown v. Board of Education. That case, of course, ended segregation in public schools, but it also opened the door to the Civil Rights Movement—and Hill remained a central figure in that effort in Virginia. There is an excellent survey of Hill’s full career in the Richmond Times–Dispatch.
For my first issue as editor of VQR, I chose to focus on the 50th anniversary of the Brown case. Julian Bond interviewed Hill for that issue. We also recommend Roger Wilkins’s “Doing the Work: Why We Need Affirmative Action” and Susan E. Eaton’s “Brown’s Faint Revival,” from that same issue, as well as an article by R. C. Smith revisiting Prince Edward County in 1997.