Julius Chambers: Timeline

1936: Oct 6: Julius Chamber is born in Mount Gilead, NC

1948: Twelve-year old Chambers decides to become a lawyer when his father is deprived of payment by a white person and can’t hire a lawyer of his own.

1950: Fourteen-year old Chambers joins book club because of limited access to libraries, and attends Peabody high school in Troy, 12 miles away from Mt. Gilead.

1954: Graduates from high school, enters North Carolina College (called NCCU in 1969)

1955: As a freshman at NC College, is forced off of an interstate bus by the driver because he refuses to move to the back and give up his seat to a white person.

1958: Graduates from North Carolina College with a BA in history, summa cum laude.

1959: Receives MA in history from University of Michigan and enters UNC-CH law school in the fall.

1959: Meets Vivian Giles, his future wife.

1960: Marries Vivian Giles.

1961: Elected editor in chief of UNC-CH law review, and becomes the first African American to hold position at any historically white school in the South.

1962: Graduates from UNC-CH with a law degree, first in his class. He is the first black student to be editor-in-chief of the Law Review.

1963: Selected by Thurgood Marshall, counsel for the Legal Defense and Education Fund of the NAACP, to be its first legal intern.

1964: Receives Master’s in law degree from Columbia University and in June founds Chambers, Stein, Ferguson, & Atkins in Charlotte, the first integrated law firm in North Carolina.

1965: On January 19, Chambers represents 41 black plaintiffs in a suit to integrate the Shrine Bowl football game, a high school all-star event played every year in Charlotte. Five days later, his car is dynamited as he meets with African Americans in a nearby church. On January 29, arsonists firebomb his house. In November, files Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education suit on behalf of ten black families whose children had been denied admission to all-white schools.

1966: Derrick Lavonne Chambers is born.

1967: Becomes one of the first black lawyers accepted to the North Carolina bar association.

1970: Judy LaVern Chambers is born.

1971: Chambers’ office is fire bombed February 4. On April 22, he argues and wins Swann vs. Mecklenburg in Supreme Court, which upholds use of busing to achieve desegregation. Also wins Griggs v Duke Power Co. in Supreme Court (Title VII discrimination case).

1972: Joins UNC Board of Governors, representing NCCU.

1974: Argues, wins Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody in Supreme Court (Title VII discrimination case).

1975: Elected (unpaid) president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and serves until 1984.

1977: Resigns from BOG two years before term ends in protest of desegregation policy he said was “window dressing” and with the board’s delay in further integrating the universities and improving the opportunities for black students.

1984: Leaves Chambers et. al. to become director-counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. Moves to NYC to take job. Is the third director counsel, following Thurgood Marshall and Jack Greenberg.

1992: CD Spangler visits Chambers in NYC, asks advice on hiring a new chancellor at NCCU. Spangler casually lists first qualification as “someone who finished first in his class at the UNC-CH law school.”

1993: Becomes chancellor of NCCU. He takes job at a time of financial and athletic troubles—the athletics department had accumulated nearly $900,000 in debt, and its former director was indicted on charges of receiving kickbacks.

1994: Raises SAT standards at NCCU for second year in a row.

1994: Elected to RJR Nabisco Board of Directors.

1994: Recommended by a number of legal, educational, and political leaders as a justice for Supreme Court. Chambers talked to representatives of both Carter and Clinton but withdrew his name in both instances because he was unwilling to contend with partisan politics with North Carolina’s US senate delegation.

1997: Because of diminished enrollment at NCCU caused by higher academic standards, NCCU has to return $3.1 million of 46.3 million operating budget. College of Arts and Sciences loses 29 positions.

1999: Julius L. Chambers Biomedical Biotechnology Research Institute is dedicated. Researchers there look for cures for diseases that disproportionately affect African Americans and other minorities. He is also diagnosed with prostate cancer that same year.

2001: Retires as Chancellor of NCCU

2001: Returns to Ferguson, Stein, Chambers, Wallas, Adkins, Gresham & Sumter

2002: Becomes Director of UNC Center for Civil Rights.