Professor Margaret Burnham, CRRJ Director, delivered the keynote address at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) School of Law’s Private Booker T. Spicely Symposium on Friday, September 22, 2023.
On July 8, 1944, Spicely was murdered after refusing to give up his seat on a bus.
Seventy years later, in 2014, Shaneka Louise Davis, a law student participating in CRRJ’s clinic, was assigned to investigate Spicely’s case.
Originally from Philadelphia, Spicely, then 34, was serving as an army private at Camp Butner near Durham, North Carolina. After boarding the bus, Spicely refused to move seats for a white solider and driver, Herbert Lee Council, subsequently shot Spicely twice as the Black solider was disembarking the bus. Council left Spicely, who had served his country in World War II, to die in the street while he continued on his customary route.
In 2023, Duke Energy Foundation, the company operating the bus route at the time of Spicely’s murder, awarded a $100,000 grant to NCCU School of Law Veterans Law Clinic to establish the Private Booker T. Spicely Endowed Scholarship Fund. The scholarship benefits law students actively involved with and enrolled in the Veterans Law Clinic, and who are working on issues impacting the legal and civil rights of veterans.
The symposium included presentations and panel discussions examining the impact of Jim Crow laws, hate-based crimes and the journey to justice.
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