Timeline

  • May 1, 1907 – Oliver White, later Oliver W. Hill, is born in Richmond, the son of Olivia Lewis White and William Henry White Jr.
  • 1913 – Oliver W. Hill moves with his family from Bath County to Roanoke, where his stepfather operates a pool hall.
  • 1920 – By this year, the parents of Oliver W. Hill have moved to Washington, D.C.
  • 1923 – Oliver W. Hill moves to Washington, D.C., where he attends Dunbar High School, a public college preparatory school for African Americans.
  • 1930 – While still an undergraduate at Howard University in Washington, D.C., Oliver W. Hill enters the university’s law school.
  • 1931 – Oliver W. Hill earns a bachelor’s degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C.
  • 1933 – Oliver W. Hill earns an LLB degree from the Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C.
  • September 5, 1934 – Oliver W. Hill and Beresenia Ann “Bernie” Walker, both natives of Richmond, marry in Washington, D.C.
  • 1935 – Oliver W. Hill serves on the nominating committee at the organizational meeting of the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP.
  • 1936 – After a short stint practicing law in Roanoke, Oliver W. Hill returns to Washington, D.C., where his wife is a public-school teacher.
  • 1939 – Oliver W. Hill moves from Washington, D.C., to Richmond, intending to establish a law practice with two other attorneys.
  • June 18, 1940 – In Alston v. School Board of City of Norfolk, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit rules that the comparatively low pay of black teachers in Norfolk is discriminatory and in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court will decline to hear another appeal.
  • 1941 – By this year, the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP consists of thirty-nine branches, the most of any state.
  • 1943 – Oliver W. Hill and Spottswood W. Robinson III form a Richmond law firm; they are later joined by Martin A. Martin.
  • June 1944 – Oliver W. Hill serves as a staff sergeant in an engineering unit that lands in France three weeks after the D-Day invasion and provides logistical support from near Le Havre for the remainder of the European conflict.
  • March 27, 1946 – The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the case of Morgan v. Virginia.
  • 1947 – Thurgood Marshall, general counsel for the NAACP, selects the Virginia NAACP to launch a county-by-county campaign to eliminate inequalities between black and white schools. The campaign will be abandoned by 1950 in favor of a direct attack on segregation.
  • 1949 – Beresenia Walker Hill, wife of Oliver W. Hill, gives birth to twin sons, one of whom is stillborn. The Hills name the surviving son Oliver White Hill Jr.
  • April 23, 1951 – Under the leadership of Barbara Johns, fellow students at the all-black Robert Russa Moton High School in the town of Farmville in Prince Edward County walk out of their school to protest the unequal conditions of their education as compared to those of the white students in nearby Farmville High School.
  • April 25, 1951 – Oliver W. Hill and Spottswood Robinson, lawyers for the NAACP, arrive in Prince Edward County to help the students of Robert Russa Moton High School, who have gone on strike.
  • May 3, 1951 – Members of the black community in Farmville hold a meeting at First Baptist Church to vote on whether the NAACP should represent them in a suit against Prince Edward County. After vigorous debate, the community agrees to pursue the legal challenge.
  • May 23, 1951 – The NAACP files the suit Davis, et al. v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, Virginia in federal court, challenging the constitutionality of segregated education in Prince Edward County schools on behalf of black students and their parents.
  • 1952 – President Harry S. Truman appoints Oliver W. Hill Sr. to the Committee on Government Contract Compliance, which monitors compliance with the antidiscrimination clauses in federal government contracts.
  • May 17, 1954 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, that segregation in schools is unconstitutional, but fails to explain how quickly and in what manner desegregation is to be achieved. The decision leads to the Massive Resistance movement in Virginia.
  • May 31, 1955 – The U.S. Supreme Court issues a vague ruling outlining the implementation of desegregation to occur “with all deliberate speed,” a ruling now commonly known as Brown
  • August 10, 1955 – A cross is burned on the front lawn of the Richmond home of civil rights attorney Oliver W. Hill.
  • August 27, 1956 – Governor Thomas B. Stanley announces a package of Massive Resistance legislation that will become known as the Stanley Plan. Among other things, the plan gives the governor the power to close any schools facing a federal desegregation order.
  • May 1959 – The Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals as well as the U.S. District Court rule that the Massive Resistance policies, aimed at preventing desegregation, are unconstitutional.
  • September 1959 – Though Massive Resistance has already ended, the Prince Edward County School Board closes its public schools to resist desegregation.
  • 1960 – Oliver W. Hill Sr. is appointed to the national Democratic Party’s biracial committee on civil rights to prepare civil rights policy for the party’s platform at its 1960 national convention. The Democratic Party in Richmond censures the national party for the appointment.
  • 1961 – President John F. Kennedy appoints Oliver W. Hill Sr. as the assistant for intergroup relations to the commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration.
  • April 2, 1963 – In NAACP v. Button, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that activities of the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP were “modes of expression and association” and therefore protected by the First and Fourteenth amendments to the Constitution.
  • May 25, 1964 – After Prince Edward County’s public schools have been closed for the previous five years, the U.S. Supreme Court in Griffin v. School Board of Prince Edward County rules that the county has violated the students’ right to an education and orders the Prince Edward County schools to reopen.
  • 1966 – Oliver W. Hill Sr. returns to private legal practice as a partner in the firm Hill, Tucker, and Marsh in Richmond.
  • January 26, 1968 – Governor Mills E. Godwin appoints Oliver W. Hill Sr. to the Virginia Constitutional Revision Commission, which will author the Virginia Constitution of 1971.
  • 1993 – Beresenia Walker Hill, wife of Oliver W. Hill Sr., dies.
  • 1996 – The new Juvenile Courts building in Richmond is named for Oliver W. Hill Sr.
  • 1998 – Oliver W. Hill Sr. retires from his legal practice at the Richmond firm of Hill, Tucker, and Marsh.
  • August 11, 1999 – President Bill Clinton awards Oliver W. Hill Sr. the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  • February 6, 2003 – Oliver W. Hill Sr. is named Virginian of the Year by the General Assembly.
  • 2005 – Oliver W. Hill Sr. receives the Spingarn Medal, the NAACP’s highest honor.
  • 2005 – The renovated Finance Building, the third most historically significant building on Capitol Square in Richmond, is renamed the Oliver W. Hill Sr. Building.
  • August 5, 2007 – Oliver W. Hill Sr. dies at his home in Richmond.