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Louis L. Redding, a Black lawyer, and civil rights activist, was born on this date in 1901.
Born in Alexandria, VA, Louis Lorenzo Redding grew up in Wilmington, DE, and graduated from Howard High School in 1919. Redding continued his education and graduated from Brown University in 1923 and from Harvard Law School in 1928. In 1929, Redding became the first Black lawyer in Delaware. He was a respected civil rights pioneer for Delaware and America.
In 1950, Redding compiled a case against the University of Delaware, which barred Black students. But the university's chancellor, wanting to avoid a trial, decided to desegregate, becoming the first federally-funded institution to do so. He also presented legal arguments in Gebhart v. Belton that provided for the desegregation of schools in Claymont and Hockess in 1952. He was part of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund team that challenged school segregation in the Brown v. Board of Education case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
"What we were doing was not addressed to the purpose of singularly changing lives," wrote Redding. "We were trying to change the status and experience of a minority of Americans who happened to be Black. We were not trying to change our lives; we were trying to change the opportunities of American citizens."
Louis L. Redding died on September 28, 1998. In 2000, the University of Delaware established the Louis L. Redding Chair in their School of Education and Louis L. Redding Intermediate School in Middletown, DE, was renamed for him.
The African American Desk Reference
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Copyright 1999 The Stonesong Press Inc. and
The New York Public Library, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Pub.