Elizabeth Gritter: Lockard Scaled Barriers Faced by Blacks in TN

Roundup: Talking About History

Elizabeth Gritter, Ph.D., teaches U.S. history at Middle Tennessee State University and is an expert on the civil rights movement.

The Hon. H.T. Lockard would have turned 92 tomorrow. When he passed away last December in Memphis, he received little statewide or national attention despite his service as the first African-American Cabinet member in Tennessee and as a key player in the civil rights movement.

I had the privilege to conduct interviews of Judge Lockard and correspond with him from 2000, when I was an undergraduate, until shortly before his death. His interest and encouragement of me as a young scholar mirrored how he mentored young lawyers, especially African-American ones, throughout his career.

Born in Lauderdale County, Tenn., Judge Lockard served in the Army during World War II, including a stint in France, where he studied at the University of Paris, Sorbonne. Afterward, he completed his undergraduate education at LeMoyne College in Memphis before attending Lincoln University Law School in St. Louis, because no law schools in Tennessee would accept him because of his race....

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