When civil rights giant Oliver W. Hill died Aug. 5 at age 100, the Richmond chapter of the Old Dominion Bar Association already was looking forward to the “Next Hundred Years.”
For several years, the Richmond chapter’s flagship program has been providing scholarships to first-year law students in order to nurture the next generation of civil rights advocates.
The chapter joined with the Richmond Bar Foundation Oct. 24 for its seventh annual Hill-Tucker Scholarship dinner to congratulate the six law students honored with the 2007 scholarship awards.
The top award this year went to Howard University School of Law student Yasmine Gabriel, who was saluted for her work with Hurricane Katrina survivors. William and Mary law students Chanel Gray, Adrienne Sakyi and Chantel Mills also received scholarships, as did Jessica Childress of the University of Virginia and Andria George of Liberty University School of Law.
Richmond lawyer Courtney Malveaux, president of the Richmond chapter, recalled the days when Oliver Hill “walked among us,” observing that Mr. Hill “did not dwell on what he endured in the past, but on our future.” He balanced his somber recollection with a lighter note, saying prior to the dinner that a year ago this time, he was just collecting a bourbon on the rocks for Mr. Hill.
Henry Marsh told the audience of lawyers, judges and community and business leaders that he was “the luckiest person in this room, perhaps in this whole state, having had the good fortune” of practicing law with both Mr. Hill and Samuel W. Tucker at the Richmond firm of Hill, Tucker and Marsh.
Marsh said he witnessed thousands of lawyers give Mr. Hill a prolonged standing ovation in response to rousing remarks Mr. Hill delivered when he accepted an award fro m the American Bar Association. Marsh heard nearby comments that hailed Mr. Hill: “Look at that, he’s 95 years old, blind, and he’s still fighting.”
Keynote speaker Viola O. Baskerville, Secretary of Administration for the Commonwealth of Virginia, told the scholarship recipients that it’s “their legacy to pick up this fight,” and build on the heritage of students who staged sit-ins and rode freedom buses. “The activism has not changed, only the medium has changed,” she said.
Malveaux said that with the support of its numerous sponsors, the group plans to start an endowment to fund future scholarships.
“The mission is not nearly complete, but that is something he left in our hands,” Malveaux said.