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Last Updated: Monday, 6 August 2007, 08:26 GMT 09:26 UK
US civil rights lawyer Hill dies
1954 file photo : from left  Louis L. Redding, Robert L. Carter, Oliver W. Hill, Thurgood Marshall and Spottswood W. Robinson III.
Oliver Hill (centre) was part of a legal team that won key cases
Civil rights lawyer Oliver Hill, who played a pivotal role in the fight to end racial segregation in US schools, has died at the age of 100.

He fought a series of lawsuits for racial equality, culminating in the 1954 Supreme Court ruling that school segregation was unconstitutional.

That decision set in motion fundamental changes in American society.

Mr Hill, who remained active in civil rights causes, said he only went to law school so he could fight segregation.

He graduated from Howard University in Washington in 1933, winning his first civil rights case seven years later - gaining equal pay for black teachers in Norfolk, Virginia.

He went on to win a succession of cases, including on voting rights, jury employment rights and access to school buses for black Americans.

Oliver Hill in a file photo from 1999
He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999

But he secured his place in history as part of the legal team fighting the landmark Brown v Board of Education case in 1954.

The Supreme Court's decision dismantled the legal basis for racial segregation in schools, so acting as a catalyst for the modern civil rights movement.

During his work in the 1940s and 1950s, Mr Hill and his family received so many death threats from white segregationists that he would not allow his son to answer the telephone.

Although blind and confined to a wheelchair in recent years, Mr Hill remained involved in civil rights causes.

In 1999, he received the country's highest award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Washington Post Oliver W. Hill - 26 hrs ago
Baltimore SunCivil rights lawyer at front of effort to desegregate schools - 29 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Oliver Hill - 31 hrs ago
Boston GlobeOliver Hill, 100; had role in Brown v. Board of Education - 37 hrs ago
UPI Civil rights lawyer Hill dies at age 100 - 37 hrs ago
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