Anti-segregationist lawyer Hill dies at 100

WASHINGTON Sun Aug 5, 2007 7:58pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Oliver Hill, a black attorney and pivotal figure in the Supreme Court ruling that ended racial segregation in American public schools, died on Sunday at his home in Richmond, Virginia, at the age of 100.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper, which posted his obituary on its Web site, did not report a cause of death.

At the height of the civil rights battle to end Jim Crow segregation laws, Hill belonged to a legal team that won landmark court rulings on voting rights, jury selection, employment protection and access to school buses for black Americans.

But he was best known as a driving force behind the national legal effort against school segregation that ended with the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. the Topeka Board of Education.

The ruling set the stage for racial integration in U.S. public schools and helped usher in fundamental change in American race relations.

During the 1940s and 1950s, threats against Hill and his family from angry white segregationists were so constant he would not allow his son to answer the telephone.

In 1999, Hill received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, for his life-long work to end the segregationist doctrine once known as "separate but equal."

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