Federal Judge, Civil Rights Advocate Robert L. Carter Dies at 94

The venerable jurist, scholar and activist argued before the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education, the case that brought an end to public school segregation.

Posted: 01/04/2012 01:05 PM EST

(Photo: Courtesy Library of Congress/WikiCommons)

Robert L. Carter, the retired federal judge and storied civil rights advocate who toiled on the front lines of the legal battle against segregation, died Tuesday in New York City at age 94. He succumbed to complications related to a stroke.


A 1940 graduate of Howard University law school, Carter worked alongside Thurgood Marshall, who then headed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, in the Brown v. Board of Education case that ended in the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in 1954 to abolish segregation in public schools.


In addition to Brown, Carter was also involved in seminal civil rights cases such as Sweatt v. Painter; over the course of his career at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, he won 21 out of 22 cases before the Supreme Court. In 1972, Carter was nominated to the federal bench by President Nixon. 

In a 2004 interview with the New York Times, Carter lamented the fact that “Black children aren’t getting equal education in the cities,” but said that he held hope for the future of education for Black children.


“In the United States, we make progress in two or three steps, then we step back,” he said. “And blacks are more militant now and will not accept second-class citizenship as before.”


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