Person

Oliver W. Hill

Oliver hill stands in a courtroom wearing a grey suit and dark tie.

Courtesy photo from Richmond News-Leader

Quick Facts

As a student of Charles Hamilton Houston at Howard University, Oliver Hill was being prepared to obtain equal rights for all. Hill graduated second in his class behind friend Thurgood Marshall. This would not be the last time that they would work together. Hill worked with Marshall for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

In 1951, a group of students from Farmville, Virginia, was striking to obtain equal facilities at their school. Two student leaders contacted the NAACP to get help. Oliver Hill and Spottswood Robinson were assigned to the case, and agreed to help them if they would try to integrate the schools, as opposed to obtain equal facilities. This case, Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, along with four others would come to the U.S. Supreme Court at the same time and become known as Brown v. Board of Education.

Hill continued to practice law after the Brown decision. He was active in his law firm until 1998. He was honored with the NAACP’s highest honor, the Spingarn Award, as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Last updated: December 30, 2020