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Sat, 03.09.1895

Inez C. Fields, Lawyer, and Activist born

Inez C. Fields

*Inez C. Fields was born on this date in 1895. She was a Black lawyer and activist.

Inez Catherine Fields was from Hampton, Virginia, the daughter of George Washington Fields, an attorney, and Sarah "Sallie" Haws Baker Fields. Her uncle James Apostle Fields, a Newport News attorney, served one term in the House of Delegates. Fields graduated from Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (later Hampton University) in 1914. Racial discrimination in Virginia required her to enroll at Boston University's law school to continue her education.

After receiving a B.L. in June 1922, Fields worked in the Boston law office of William Henry Lewis, a Virginia native. He had been the first African American appointed as an assistant attorney general of the United States. There her reputation grew as a criminal lawyer and title examiner. She was one of the first known black women to become a second-generation lawyer. She graduated from Boston University School of Law in 1922 and became the second black woman admitted to the Massachusetts bar on April 15, 1924.

She married Frederick Conklin Scott, an electrician at Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, in the school's chapel in December 1925. They had one son.  The family returned to Virginia, where she joined her father's law firm in Hampton. On November 7, 1928, she became the third black woman admitted to the Virginia bar. She joined Marian Poe and Bertha Douglass, practicing law in Virginia between the late 1920s and 1960.

About 1929, Fields helped establish the Women's Forum, a group devoted to civic, political, and educational causes in Elizabeth City County. As president of the forum during the 1930s, she oversaw benefit programs that collected money, food, and toys for distribution to needy families and children of unemployed parents. In October 1931, Fields and three other attorneys spoke at a mass meeting to educate residents on court decisions regarding the qualifications for registering and voting. The following month at a meeting sponsored by a local woman's club, she urged women to register to vote. In July 1943, Fields and other southern black leaders attended a hearing on the Newport News school board's dismissal without explanation of three principals and three teachers, presumably for their roles in fighting for equal pay for black teachers.

She helped raise funds in 1949 to build a local child-care center, and as a member of the Hampton Woman's Service League, she helped organize a Christmas youth dance in 1959 and spring cultural activities the following year. The Hampton City Federation of Colored Women's Clubs selected Fields as its 1957 Woman of the Year, and the NAACP honored her in 1968 with a lifetime membership plaque.

Inez Catherine Fields Scott died at a Hampton hospital on August 9, 1978. She was buried next to her husband, who had died on September 6, 1974, in the cemetery at Hampton University Cemetery.

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