Oliver W. Hill, born in Richmond Virginia, was a trailblazing civil rights activist, a veteran, and pioneering attorney. He was one of the leading lawyers in Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward, one of five suits that were consolidated into the Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954).
Oliver W. Hill graduated from Howard University law school in 1933 where he met Thurgood Marshall, who would later become a Supreme Court justice. Hill served as the lead attorney for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). His time as an attorney was briefly interrupted when, at age 36, he was drafted to serve in WWII. When he returned to the United States, he and fellow civil rights attorney Spottswood Robinson helped win what would become the most defining legal case regarding the education of African Americans of our time. Oliver Hill fought tirelessly for civil rights and used his platform to seek political office as a way of engaging blacks to vote. In 1948 he became the first African American elected to city council in Richmond, Virginia since 1894. In 1999, as a fitting tribute to his years of activism and commitment to civil rights, President Bill Clinton presented Oliver W. Hill with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest honor.
The bronze bust of Oliver W. Hill on display was created by Paul DiPasquale in 1997 in honor of Mr. Hill’s 90th birthday.