Law & Courts Obituary

Obituary

By Corey Mitchell — October 25, 2016 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Jack Greenberg, a civil rights lawyer who helped litigate the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, has died. He was 91.

Jack Greenberg

A member of Thurgood Marshall’s inner circle at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Greenberg worked on a number of high-profile civil rights cases, including Brown, which led to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision overturning racially segregated systems of public education.

Greenberg, who was in his 20s when he helped argue cases that reached the high court, was the last living lawyer involved in the Brown case.

His most significant contribution came in Delaware with Gebhart v. Belton, in which he argued that black children in the state had the right to attend the all-white schools in their neighborhoods. A judge ruled that the black schools were offering far less to their students than the white schools were to theirs. But the decision did not apply broadly throughout Delaware.

The Supreme Court combined that case with similar ones from Kansas, South Carolina, and Virginia into what is known as Brown v. Board, the Kansas suit.

When Marshall left the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in 1961 to serve as a federal appeals judge—and later, a Supreme Court justice—he handpicked Greenberg, who was white, as director of the organization, which he led for 23 years.

Greenberg did not see himself as an improbable choice to lead a national legal campaign against race-based segregation and discrimination.

“The question of race never really entered into it. It was a matter of human liberty. It was the principles that were involved,” he said in Richard Kluger’s Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America’s Struggle for Equality.

A version of this article appeared in the October 26, 2016 edition of Education Week as Obituary

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Assessment Webinar
The State of Assessment in K-12 Education
What is the impact of assessment on K-12 education? What does that mean for administrators, teachers and most importantly—students?
Content provided by Instructure
Jobs January 2022 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Proven Strategies to Improve Reading Scores
In this webinar, education and reading expert Stacy Hurst will provide a look at some of the biggest issues facing curriculum coordinators, administrators, and teachers working in reading education today. You will: Learn how schools
Content provided by Reading Horizons

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Law & Courts U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Major Cases on Affirmative Action in Education
The outcome could affect K-12 policies when the justices rule on race-based policies at Harvard and the University of North Carolina.
3 min read
A man talks on his phone on the steps of Harvard University's Widener Library, in Cambridge, Mass. on June 26, 2020.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up major cases on affirmative action in admissions at Harvard University, above, and at the University of North Carolina.
Elise Amendola/AP
Law & Courts Supreme Court to Hear Case of Coach Who Prayed After Games in Defiance of School District
The U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether school districts may prohibit private religious expression by public school employees.
4 min read
Former Bremerton High School assistant football coach Joe Kennedy is in a conflict with the Bremerton, 
Wash., school district over his silent prayer after games.
Former Bremerton High School assistant football coach Joseph A. Kennedy stands at on the 50-yard line at Bremerton Memorial Stadium. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal over his dismissal for praying after football games.
Larry Steagall/Kitsap Sun via AP
Law & Courts Supreme Court Blocks Biden Vaccine Mandate Applying to Schools in Much of the Country
The justices ruled 6-3 to stay an Occupational Health and Safety Administration rule that covered schools in 26 states and two territories.
4 min read
Members of the Supreme Court pose for a group photo last April.
The U.S. Supreme Court blocked a federal vaccine mandate for large employers, including school districts in about half the states.
Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP
Law & Courts Students Lose Appeal on Right to Civics Education, But Win Praise From Judges Anyway
A federal appellate court panel commended Rhode Island students for the novel effort, but said Supreme Court precedent stood in the way.
3 min read
Scales of justice and Gavel on wooden table and Lawyer or Judge working with agreement in Courtroom, Justice and Law concept.
Pattanaphong Khuankaew/iStock