Judge Robert L. Carter — But, he said, “I have hope.”

Our colleague Alan Jenkins at the Opportunity Agenda shared this post.  We couldn’t have said it better, and share in sending our condolences to the Carter family.

On January 3rd, America lost one of the greatest champions of equal opportunity and human rights that our nation has ever known. Judge Robert L. Carter, civil rights lawyer, jurist, and fierce defender of justice, passed away at age 94 after suffering a stroke.

Judge Carter was a primary architect behind the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education desegregation decision, crafting an innovative approach that blended constitutional scholarship, social science research, historical knowledge, and strategic litigation. After the victory, he pursued a strategy that helped bring desegregation to the North, where it had long been treated as an open secret. As a federal judge, he held litigants to the highest standards, while rigorously guarding equal justice under law. Over four decades on the bench, he brought greater inclusion to the New York Police Department and to construction trades that had long excluded people of color and women. And he continued to speak out against injustice wherever he encountered it. That he chose me as one of his law clerks was a singular honor; I remain humbled by having been able to serve in that capacity.

Indeed, those of us who have worked to fight prejudice and segregation owe a great debt to Judge Carter and must continue to work to honor his legacy.  As Alan Jenkins wrote, ” And we thank Judge Carter for his lifetime of service, for the transformative change he brought to our nation, and for the sterling example of leadership that he has given us all.”


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