March 26, 1990.
On this day, Judge Robert L. Carter, senior U.S. district judge for the southern district of New York, spoke at the Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis. Carter was one of the attorneys who argued and won the important Brown v. Board of Education case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954. His two-day visit to IUPUI was as the law school's Distinguished Jurist in Residence.
Carter spoke to an audience of students, faculty, and guests of the law school. He noted that equal opportunity for African-American people was still absent in the United States, despite what the Constitution states and requires. "Reality does not match the fantasy," he said. Progress had been made toward social and economic justice for all, he added. But he called on black people to persist in fighting for equality under the law.
As an attorney and judge, Carter (1917-2012) was an important figure in advancing civil rights in the United States during the twentieth century. Educated at Lincoln and Howard Universities, as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army during World War Two he helped integrate the officer corps in the face of racist hostility and resistance. As a young attorney he helped devise the legal strategy of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to challenge discriminatory laws and practices around the country. Succeeding Thurgood Marshall as NAACP's general counsel, he argued and won notable legal victories for equality under the law. After resigning from the NAACP, he was nominated by President Richard M. Nixon to the federal bench in 1972. He handled many significant cases in his court. He remained on the bench until his death (since 1986 in senior status).
Through the years the law school (now the IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law) has invited many distinguished jurists to campus to speak and teach.
During IUPUI's fiftieth anniversary year, IUPUI Special Collections and Archives is presenting On This Day in IUPUI History daily blog series. Read all the posts.