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The Voice of the Black Community

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Chambers lauded posthumously
Attorney earns service commendation
 
Published Wednesday, December 4, 2013 1:15 pm
by Herbert L. White

Julius Chambers was honored posthumously last month for his service to North Carolina through education.

Gov. Pat McCrory presented the Spirit of North Carolina award to Chambers’ son, Derrick, accepted the Spirit of North Carolina award on behalf of the family at the North Carolina Museum of History. Chambers, who died in August of a heart attack, was chancellor at N.C. Central University from 1993-2001. 

Best known as one of the country’s top civil rights attorneys, Chambers is the second person to earn the honor given to state employees who have mentored others and whose achievements are of the highest caliber. 

“Dr. Chambers is best known as a civil rights champion during his career as a private litigator and as director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund,” McCrory said. “He also performed ground-breaking work for North Carolina Central and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, two universities in which he graduated at the top of his respective classes.”

A native of Mount Gilead, Chambers graduated North Carolina College (now NCCU) in 1958 and earned a law degree from UNC, graduating first in his class. 

During his eight years at NCCU, Chambers doubled research funding and increased the number of endowed chairs from one to 10, including the $1 million Charles Hamilton Houston chair at the School of Law. Chambers raised academic standards, and oversaw the increase of faculty with doctoral degrees to 80 percent. In 1999, NCCU opened the Julius L. Chambers Biomedical/Biotechnology Research Institute for the study of human diseases, especially those that disproportionately affect people of color. 

“Dr. Chambers joins an elite group of North Carolinians who not only made an historic impact during their lifetime,” McCrory said, “but whose life’s work will make North Carolina and the nation a better place for generations to come.”

When Chambers left NCCU, he became founding director of the University of North Carolina Center for Civil Rights to train law students in civil rights advocacy, provide legal council to lower income communities and address racial and economic inequality. He retired from the UNC Center for Civil Rights in 2010 and returned to his law practice in Charlotte.

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