© 2024
Virginia's Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Honoring Civil Rights Lawyers Hill & Robinson

Thursday Virginia’s Governor honored two powerhouse African-American lawyers, men whose work laid the foundation for the Civil Rights Movement. 


Oliver Hill was born in Richmond, but grew up in Roanoke. He became a lawyer for the NAACP. He and Spottswood Robinson, another native Richmonder, helped lead the fight against Virginia’s Jim Crow laws, and school segregation. 

Colita Fairfax, who chairs Virginia’s Board of Historic Resources, says their legacy cannot be overstated. 

Credit L.B. Maddrey / AP
Spotswood Robinson III, and Oliver W. Hill, NAACP attorneys arrive for hearing at Federal Courtin Norfolk, Va., August 29, 1958.

“Black children wouldn’t have the kinds of public educational opportunities if it wasn’t for the legal genius and the gifts of Oliver Hill and Spottswood Robinson,” said Fairfax.  

Oliver Hill’s son, Oliver Hill Jr., was in the audience Thursday. He says his father didn’t like the limelight for himself - using it instead to bring attention to important causes. 

Hill Jr. says if his father were still alive he probably would have done the same at this event.

“To get people to think about where we are now. We still have inequities in our schools. And so now that we have a Democratic Governor, Democratic legislature, hopefully there will be the will to make something happen to really equalize schools,” said Oliver Hill Jr. 

Hill died in 2007, Robinson in 1998. Historic markers about each of them will soon stand outside the U.S. Court of Appeals in downtown Richmond.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Mallory Noe-Payne is a Radio IQ reporter based in Richmond.