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Sat, 04.08.1899

Z. A. Looby, Lawyer, and Businessman born

Z. Alexander Looby

*Z. Alexander Looby was born on his date in 1899. He was a Black lawyer and businessman.

Zephaniah Alexander Looby was from Antigua, British West Indies, the son of John Alexander and Grace Elizabeth (Joseph) Looby. In 1914, young Looby came to the United States after his father's death. He received a bachelor's degree from Howard University, a Bachelor of Law degree from Columbia University, and a Doctor of Juristic Science from New York University. In 1926, he came to Fisk University as an assistant professor of economics for two years. Later he served brief periods as a lecturer at Fisk University and Meharry College.

In 1929, Looby practiced law in Memphis and met a schoolteacher (Grafta Mosby), whom he married in 1934. Looby also helped to found the Kent College of Law, Nashville's first law school for Blacks since the old Central Tennessee College's department of law (1877-1911). He presided over the James C. Napier Bar Association during World War Two. He ran for the city council in 1940 and in 1946, the NAACP hired Looby, Maurice Weaver, and Thurgood Marshall to represent the Blacks of Columbia, Tennessee charged with murder. Looby's legal defense helped acquit twenty-three of the defendants.

He crossed the state with other Black lawyers, arguing against Jim Crow and discrimination. Looby helped desegregate the Nashville Airport's dining room and non-private golf courses. During the demonstrations of the 1960s, Looby and other Black attorneys provided money and legal services for local college students who were arrested and jailed. On April 19, 1960, his Meharry Boulevard home was destroyed by dynamite. In 1951, he and fellow attorney Robert E. Lillard became the first Blacks to be elected to the city council since 1911.

In 1971 he retired; Z. Alexander Looby died on March 24, 1972. On October 8, 1982, the Nashville Bar Association, who had denied Looby's membership application in the 1950s, posthumously granted a membership certificate in his name. His contributions are recognized in the Z. Alexander Looby Library and Community Center erected by the city of Nashville.

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