Statue honors Charlotte civil rights champion

Statue honors Charlotte civil rights champion

Julius Chambers statue on Little Sugar Creek Greenway. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

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A statue honoring civil rights attorney Julius Chambers now stands on the Trail of History on Little Sugar Creek Greenway in Midtown. 

Why it matters: Chambers, a Mount Gilead native, never lost a case in the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education was the most prominent of his eight cases there, arguing busing would help desegregate CMS. 
  • It set the precedent for integrating schools nationwide in 1971. 

Worthy of your time: Chambers also won Griggs v. Duke Power in 1971. 

  • The Supreme Court ruled employment tests unrelated to a job are unconstitutional. 
  • The case created a pathway for Black people to pursue management positions. 

The big picture: This is not the first honor for Chambers, who died at age 76 in 2013. 

  • N.C. Department of Transportation’s plan to name part of I-85 from the I-77 interchange to the I-85 connector Julius Chambers Memorial Highway was finalized in 2018 by Charlotte City Council. 
  • A post office in Derita became the Julius L. Chambers Civil Rights Memorial Post Office in December 2020. U.S. Rep. Alma Adams championed the bill to rename it. 

And the CMS board of education voted to rename Zebulon B. Vance High School Julius L. Chambers High in 2020. 

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  • The high school was previously named after a confederate military officer, lawyer, N.C. governor and U.S. senator. 
  • Renaming spaces honoring people who upheld white supremacy is an ongoing process in Charlotte. 

Bonus: Chambers founded N.C.’s first integrated law firm. 

  • He served as NAACP Legal Defense Fund director from 1984-93. 
  • He also was chancellor of N.C. Central University, his alma mater, from 1993-2001. 

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