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Leland Ware, a Saint Louis University law professor expert in civil rights, has accepted the special responsibility that goes with being the University of Delaware’s choice for its new Louis L. Redding Chair for the Study of Law and Public Policy. Ware’s selection is the culmination of an effort to raise more than $1 million as an endowment and find a scholar/practitioner for the Redding Chair, which was created as a memorial to the legendary civil rights leader and lawyer shortly after his death at 96 on Sept. 28, 1998. As the first Redding professor, Ware understands this post is as much about the man it is named for as it is about himself. Redding, the first African-American admitted to the Delaware bar in 1929, was its only black lawyer until 1956 and played a pivotal role in the nation’s landmark civil rights cases, including the 1950 decision integrating the university now designating a chair after him. “He’s the local Thurgood Marshall, a highly respected grand old man,” Ware said last Thursday during a telephone interview from St. Louis. “This chair is an exciting opportunity. It’s sort of the perfect thing for me. I hope I can make a positive contribution to the community.” Members of the Delaware State Bar Association, who raised nearly $170,000 toward the Redding Chair’s endowment, regard Ware as the embodiment of what the professorship was conceived to be — not strictly academic but also a presence in the community to advance the cause of social justice. “The chair will be a chair in law and public policy. It says a lot about what Lawyer Redding meant to this community and will be a living tribute to him with Leland Ware initiating this outreach to the community,” said Joshua W. Martin III, the Bell Atlantic president who is a former Superior Court judge and bar association president. “This chair is not meant to be a normal lecturing chair,” said Victor F. Battaglia Sr., a former bar association president from Biggs & Battaglia in Wilmington, Delaware. “Leland Ware is a man of real reason. I was enormously impressed. I am hoping he will make us his community for life. He is an activist, and I hope he will bring diverse elements of the community together.” GOOD FIT Battaglia, who used to have an office next to Redding’s, noted Ware has a trait that Redding was famous for. “He is not one to mince words,” Battaglia said. Stacey J. Mobley, the Du Pont Co.’s senior vice president and general counsel, said he expects the Redding Chair to have a national impact because of its focus and its occupant. “Louis Redding has a special place in the history of civil rights in this country. For us to honor his prominence is very appropriate,” Mobley said. “[Ware] has an outstanding resume. It doesn’t take long to feel comfortable with him.” Ware will arrive on the Newark campus in September and begin teaching courses in civil rights in the spring in the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy. He also will participate in research for public projects and events. The professor and the University of Delaware found each other when his wife Melva, an education professor at the University of Missouri in St. Louis, saw the position advertised in the Chronicle of Higher Education. “She said, ‘This sounds like you.’ I read it, and I thought so, too,” he said. Ware, 51, brings to the professorship the mix of scholarship, public policy experience and civic involvement that the university was searching for. Since 1987 he has been a faculty member at Saint Louis University School of Law, where he has taught employment discrimination law, employment law, civil rights law, civil procedure and administrative law. He previously was counsel to Howard University in Washington, D.C., a trial attorney with the civil division of the U.S. Justice Department, an assistant regional attorney for the U.S. Health, Education and Welfare Department, and a lawyer in his hometown of Atlanta. A member of the Georgia and District of Columbia bars, Ware earned his law degree from Boston College in 1973 and a bachelor’s degree in history from Fisk University in 1970. Ware serves on the national board of the American Civil Liberties Union and has worked with the NAACP’s national office. He also has written extensively about civil rights — both the law and the movement — which led to his appreciation for Redding’s contributions. “When you write those histories, you get to know people even though you don’t know them,” he said. STATE MAKING AMENDS The professorship represents a continuation of the state’s efforts to make amends to Redding. Although his fellow black Delawareans thought so much of him they addressed him as “Lawyer Redding,” he otherwise experienced the slights and threats that were the lot of civil rights pioneers. Today the City / County Building in Wilmington is named for him, as is a middle school in Middletown; but it wasn’t always so. When Redding took the bar examination, for example, he was given a different, harder version — the legal equivalent of a literacy test — and still passed. In the 1950s Redding worked with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to bring the lawsuits that led to the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of the “separate but equal” doctrine. Redding filed Parker v. the University of Delaware, which made the school the first to be ordered by a court to integrate its undergraduate classes. He also initiated Belton v. Gebhart and Bulah v. Gebhart, which became the basis for public school integration through Brown v. Board of Education. The Delaware cases were decided by Collins J. Seitz, the late chancellor and federal judge whose name is forever linked with Redding’s. As a backlash Redding’s tax records were investigated, and criminal charges of tax evasion were filed against him. He faced up to two years in jail and $20,000 in fines. Edmund N. “Ned” Carpenter II, the son of a DuPont Co. chairman and a lawyer at Richards Layton & Finger in Wilmington, broke with the establishment to defend Redding and got him acquitted. As a means to advance Redding’s legacy of using the legal process to influence public policy, the professorship has captured the interest of numerous segments of the community. Donations rolled in not only from lawyers, but from corporations like Bell Atlantic, the DuPont Co. and MBNA America, and also the state of Delaware, New Castle County and the city of Wilmington. The students at Louis L. Redding Middle School sent a check for $1,000, and Ezion-Mount Carmel United Methodist Church in Wilmington donated $790. Littleton P. Mitchell, a former Delaware NAACP president who was Redding’s friend and compatriot, believes Ware has accepted a public trust in coming here. “If we have somebody who would just sit in that chair, we don’t need him. Lou Redding went out and looked for opportunity. This chair can make history in this state. I don’t know how he can do it, but he can find a way if he follows Lou Redding,” Mitchell said. Mitchell has a pretty good idea how Redding would have reacted to a chair in his name — with a show of detachment that would be only a show. “He’d never let you know how proud he was of it. He’d say, ‘That’s very nice, but why?’ But he’d be tickled to death,” Mitchell said. “He’d be a proud rascal.”

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