New York Times Magazine Profiles Of Counsel Judge U.W. Clemon as Crusader Against Segregation in Alabama Schools
New York Times Magazine: The Resegregation of Jefferson County
In a New York Times Magazine feature article last week, Judge U.W. Clemon describes his experience working on the first school-desegregation case he ever worked on – a case that has carried over to today: “I never envisioned that I would be fighting in 2017 essentially the same battle that I thought I won in 1971…But the battle is just not over.”
The piece, which examines a half century-old debate in Alabama over desegregation in public schools, follows Judge Clemon back when, while fresh out of law school, he was hired by the Legal Defense Fund to challenge a desegregation order in Jefferson County. In 1971 he argued Stout v. Jefferson County Board of Education. In that case, a black parent sued the school system for being racially segregated. The judge ruled in their favor, ordering the schools in Jefferson County to integrate, which was upheld until present day. That case established the precedent for the present day case Judge Clemon is once again involved in.
This past April, a federal judge ruled that Gardendale, a predominately white city in Alabama, could separate from its school system, which is more diverse. While the judge ruled that the move was motivated by race and could obstruct efforts to desegregate, she also said the town of Gardendale could move forward with the secession. Judge U.W. Clemon, who serves as Of Counsel to Mehri & Skalet, is representing the black plaintiffs in the case, arguing against resegregation in Jefferson County.
With incredible detail, the article vividly depicts the courtroom drama in Gardendale last year, where Judge Clemon argued on behalf of the plaintiffs that the secession effort was motivated by racism and not a desire for local control. The federal judge’s ruling was perplexing, given her finding of racial motivation. In response to the ruling, the Notice of Appeal and the Motion to Stay Pending Appeal was filed on May 22, 2017.
Read the full article here.