Statue honoring Julius Chambers unveiled on Charlotte’s Trail of History

The noted civil rights lawyer becomes the second Black person honored along the history trail section of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway.

The accolades keep coming for Julius Chambers, the late civil rights lawyer who fought to eliminate racist barriers that hindered the social and economic progress of Black Americans.

On Saturday, a bronze statue honoring Chambers was unveiled along the Trail of History on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway.

The statue stands near the main fountain on South Kings Drive in midtown.

Chambers joined Thaddeus Lincoln Tate, a business owner and civil rights leader, as the second Black man to be honored with a statue on the history trail.

In an interview with The Charlotte Observer, statue project manager and board member David Taylor called Chambers “a giant in the Civil Right Era.”

“He was that voice for the voiceless and a beacon of hope that was so important for so many people during that time,” Taylor was quoted as saying.

Chambers helped shape civil rights law by winning benchmark cases before the Supreme Court, including Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (1971), which helped to integrate public schools across the country. Chambers and his team also won two of the Supreme Court’s most noted Title VII employment discrimination decisions, Griggs v. Duke Power Co. (1971) and Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody (1974).

A temporary marker near the Julius Chambers statue notes his many professional accomplishments.

Despite having his home, car and office firebombed, Chambers showed “unwavering courage and commitment,” organizers said in a statement.

Chambers attended the University of North Carolina’s law school and was the first Black editor-in-chief of the school’s law journal. After graduating, he returned to Charlotte and was a founding member of the state’s first integrated law firm.

In February’s Charlotte’s Derita Station Post Office was renamed in Chambers’ honor. Five months later, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education officially renamed the Zebulon B. Vance High School the Julius L. Chambers High School.

Chambers died in 2013 at age 76.

His son, Derrick Chambers, told the Observer that he and family members were honored by the history trail statue.

“It’s been an awesome few years… the honors that have come through for my father,” Derrick Chambers was quoted as saying. “It’s well deserved. We’re all so honored to be related to him.”

On its website, the Trail of History said its mission is to “recapture and preserve the significance of key people who contributed to the history, growth, and development of Mecklenburg County.”

The statue was cast by Edward Hamilton, a noted artist who lives in Louisville, Kentucky. His most noted works include “Spirit of Freedom,” a federal memorial in Washington, D.C., that honors the “Colored Soldiers and Sailors of the Civil War.” It stands at 10th and U streets NW and was dedicated in 1998.

Glenn Burkins
Glenn is founder and publisher of Qcitymetro.com. He's worked at the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Wall Street Journal and Charlotte Observer.

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