Louis L. Redding, Civil Rights Pioneer
Louis L. Redding was born in Alexandria, Virginia on October 25, 1901, to parents Lewis Alfred Redding and Mary Ann (Holmes) Redding. He was the eldest of four children. Redding’s brother, J. Saunders Redding, was a noted author and college professor. His sisters Lillian Redding Bailey and C. Gwendolyn Redding were teachers in the Wilmington School System.
The Reddings moved to Wilmington, Delaware and resided at 203 East 10th Street in Wilmington. At that time, this location was in the heart of an upscale, African-American neighborhood that occupied 10th Street, Walnut Street, and French Street.
Louis attended segregated public schools and graduated from Howard High School (the only high school for African Americans in the state at the time) in 1919. He enrolled at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island and graduated with honors in 1923. After college, Redding became vice principal of Fessenden Academy in Ocala, Florida and later taught at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1925, Redding entered Harvard Law School. He was the only African-American in Harvard Law’s 1928 graduating class. He was admitted to the Delaware bar in the following year.
In Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), the U.S. Supreme Court decided that a Louisiana law mandating “separate but equal” accommodations for blacks and whites on intrastate railroads was constitutional. This decision provided the legal foundation to justify many other actions by state and local governments to socially separate blacks and whites.
—— Segregation: Always Separate but never Equal ——
Parker v. University of Delaware
In 1950, Redding filed a case against the University of Delaware which barred black students. Redding argued that the Delaware State College was not Equal to the University of Delaware. Chancellor Collins Seitz visited both the white and African American colleges. Finding the African American college to be “grossly inferior,” he ordered the plaintiffs to be admitted to the all-white University of Delaware.
In 1951, Redding filed two cases : Belton v. Gebhart, which concerned high school education, and Bulah v. Gebhart. Psychiatrist Frederic Wertham, and 14 other experts testified that segregated education severely damaged the mental health of African American children. Chancellor Seitz listened to the arguments, visited the schools in question. In 1952 he ordered that African American students be immediately admitted to white schools.
Brown v. Board of Education
• South Carolina: Briggs vs. Elliott
• Virginia: Davis v. Edward County
• Delaware: Beulah v. Gephardt and Belton vs. Gephardt
• Kansas case: Brown v. Board of Education
• District of Columbia: Bolling vs. Sharpe
The Supreme Court’s Decision
The decision in Brown was announced on May 17, 1954. Chief Justice Earl Warren read the unanimous opinion. The Court framed the issue as whether “segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race deprives the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities.” The Court found that it did, concluding that “[t]o separate [black] children from others of similar age and qualifications generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in ways unlikely ever to be undone.” The Court went on to rule that “[s]eparate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”
During the 57 years that he practiced law in Delaware, Redding handled cases that successfully challenged discrimination in housing, public accommodations, employment, and the criminal justice system. He worked for the Public Defender’s Office in Wilmington, Del., from 1965 to 1984 and then retired from law practice.
Redding passed away in 1998 hospital in Lima, Pa. He was 96 and lived in Glen Mills, Pa.
The Redding House Foundation, Inc., a Delaware non-profit corporation, was established on September 15, 1997, for purposes of owning, operating, maintaining and preserving the Louis L. Redding House as a museum and community center. The Redding House, a non-profit museum and historical landmark located near downtown Wilmington, Delaware, commemorates Mr. Redding’s legacy and his tremendous contributions to civil rights, the community and the law.
History of Delaware Barristers Association
The Delaware Barristers Association was founded in 1993. It is a nonprofit organization incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware. The purposes of the Delaware Barristers Association are to promote professional and social interaction among the members of the Delaware legal community; to uphold and extend the principles of justice in every phase of American life to the end that no person shall be discriminated against by reason of his or her color, race, sex, religious beliefs or national origin; to determine and communicate by appropriate means the official position of the Delaware Barristers Association, on various issues; and to encourage the full participation of all members of the Delaware legal community in the Delaware State Bar Association and any lawful act or activity for which corporations may be organized under the General Corporation Laws of Delaware.
History of National Bar Association
The NBA’s network has made significant strides in expanding the opportunities for its membership of over 20,000 lawyer, judges, educators and law students. The NBA has concerned itself with a wide range of projects, including:
- Purchased a permanent headquarters for the NBA at 1225 11th Street, NW, Washington, DC in 1984.
- Created its web site on the Internet to facilitate greater communication between the Association and the general public, as well as to generate greater awareness of the NBA (http://www.nationalbar.org).
- Established communications with key corporations to generate retainers for minority law firms.
- Expanded the membership packet to include a Gold Master Card Program, car rental discounts, travel services, group discount purchasing and group insurance.
- Been approved as a sponsor in those states with mandatory CLE requirements.
- Operated a lawyer Referral & Information Center, a nationwide referral service for commercial lawyers.
- Expanded on the number and quality of continuing legal education (CLE) seminars offered each year.
- Expanded on the number of corporations providing discounts and benefits to NBA members.
- Fostered several long-term alliances with some of the world’s most respectable corporations. Our aim is to establish on-going relationships between the members of the NBA and the products and services of several Fortune 1,000 companies.
- Established the NBA/ Carleton College Scholarship, a four-year scholarship awarded to as many as four deserving African-American students.
- Established The National Bar Association Crump Law Camp, designed to provide students between the ages of 14 and 17 and/or entering the 9th, 10th, and 11th grades with a comprehensive introduction to the American judicial and legal system.
For more than ten years, the NBA has financially maintained itself primarily on receipts from membership dues, the Mid-Year Conference, and the Annual Convention. The NBA, as an advocate for the Nation’s African American lawyers, continues to identify unaffiliated lawyers and guide them into the NBA network.
The NBA Perspective
During the first quarter of the 20th century, twelve African-American pioneers with a mutual interest in, and dedication to justice and the civil rights of all, helped structure the struggle of the African-American race in America. George H. Woodson, S. Joe Brown, Gertrude E. Rush, James B. Morris, Charles P. Howard, Sr., Wendell E. Green, C. Francis Stradford, Jesse N. Baker, William H. Haynes, George C. Adams, Charles H. Calloway and L. Amasa Knox conceived the National Bar Association (NBA), formally organized in Des Moines, IA on August 1, 1925. When the NBA was organized in 1925, there were fewer than 1,000 African-American lawyers in the nation, and less than 120 belonged to the Association. By 1945, there were nearly 250 members representing 25% of the African-American members of the bar. Over the past 75 years, the NBA has grown enormously in size and influence. Today, the NBA Board of Governors formulates the Association’s policies. The Board consists of the following: officers (president, president-elect, four vice presidents, secretary and treasurer; twelve regional directors; five former NBA presidents; seven at-large representatives; seven affiliated chapter representatives; one representative from each of the twenty-one substantive legal sections and one from each of the nine special interest divisions. Between the regular meetings of the Board of Governors, the Executive Committee, which is composed of the NBA officers and seven board members, functions on behalf of the Board. From the national headquarters in Washington, DC, an executive director serves as chief operating executive and supervises daily operations. The National Bar Association Magazine, the official publication of the Association, mainly facilitates communication between members, staff and others. Finally in 1984, the NBA purchased its official headquarters at 1225 11th Street, NW Washington, DC 20001.