Our Firm’s social committee, led by our amazing associates, is celebrating Black History Month by shining the spotlight on a different Black lawyer, judge, or other trailblazer in North Carolina who impacted the legal profession.
“Throughout history, Black people have faced great adversity in the pursuit of joining the legal profession and achieving equality in the United States. “A Spotlight on Black History” serves as a reminder that Black history is interwoven into the fabric of our profession and essential to where we are today – not only as a profession but as a state and nation.” Associate Attorney Britney Weaver
Attorney Floyd Bixler McKissick, 1922-1991
Floyd McKissick, a North Carolina native, was an attorney, businessman, and civil rights leader. The intersection of McKissick’s passions revolutionized access to equal legal education for generations of Black attorneys.
After serving in World War II and graduating from Morehouse College in Atlanta, McKissick enrolled at North Carolina College (later known as North Carolina Central University School of Law) to pursue his legal education. The school, however, was underfunded and underserved compared to the University of North Carolina School of Law (UNC School of Law) despite both schools being state-supported institutions.
McKissick and other Black law students immediately took action to increase funds for North Carolina College by successfully picketing the North Carolina Legislature, and then they set their sights on addressing the root of the problems plaguing North Carolina law schools – segregation.
Around 1945, McKissick was denied admission to the UNC School of Law based on his race. With the help of the NAACP, and a team led by Thurgood Marshall and Conrad Pearson of Durham, McKissick and other Black students filed a lawsuit against the UNC School of Law. After years of battling in court, the Fourth Circuit ruled in favor of the students, and the UNC School of Law was desegregated in 1951, setting the precedent for other forms of higher education to desegregate in North Carolina.