Wilson’s hidden figure.

On 15 January 2017, the Wilson Times published an article about a Wilson-born woman with ties to “Hidden Figures,” the Hollywood blockbuster shining the spotlight on three black women who worked as “human computers” in NASA’s space program. 

Though Christine Barnes Richie is not a title character in the film, she was among the mathematicians Margot Lee Shetterly interviewed for the book upon which the movie is based. Richie is the daughter of McKinley and Hagar Hagans Barnes.


McKinley Barnes, 21, of Taylor township, son of Lovett Barnes and Lucy Wells married Hagar Hagans, 17, daughter of James and Hannah Hagans, on 11 January 1930 in Wilson, Wilson County.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 319 North Hackney, lumber mill laborer Frank Harris, 35, wife Mamie, 33, and son Frank Jr., 2, with farm laborer McKinley Barnes, 21, and wife Hagar, 16.

In the 1940 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: McKinley Barnes, 32, wife Heggar, 26, and children Christine, 8, Katherine, 7, and Ruby, 1, niece Lizzy Mae Barnes, 20, and mother Lucy Barnes, 59.

Prominent couple weds.


Pittsburgh Courier, 23 October 1943.


In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 614 East Green, barber William Hines, 35, wife Ethel, 25, and children Delores, 4, and William, 2.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: barber William Hines, 46, wife Ethel L., 36, and children Deloris L., 14, and William Jr., 11.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 615 East Green Street, barber shop operator William Hines, 56, wife Ethel L., 46, and children Delores L., 24, and William C., 21.

Dr. William Cornwell Hines received his first name from his father, but he was not a Junior, as the article implies. His middle name was his mother’s maiden name.

Nan Jeanette Delany was the daughter of Lemuel Thackara Delany, who was the son of Rev. Henry Beard Delany and Nannie Logan Delany and the brother of Sadie and Bessie Delany, the authors of Having Our Say: The Delaney Sisters’ First 100 Years.

Central business district: East Nash Street, part 2.

Continued from here.

#64. (former) Dr. W. A. Mitchner’s office, 528 East Nash Street.

This little, two bay wide brick structure was built ca 1936 as the office of Dr. William Arthur Mitchner (1882-1941), one of Wilson’s earliest black doctors. A native of Clayton, North Carolina, he had practices in Wilson from ca 1910 until his death in 1941. The facade has a modern-glass door at the northeast and a large glass window at the southwest. The four windows at the northwest side have been closed. Since Mitchner’s death the building has been occupied successively by three beauty shops.


528 Nash Street Southeast.

#65. (former) Hamilton Funeral Home, 532 East Nash Street.

This rather attractive, modest, one-story, double pile house was built ca 1920 for Turner Stokes, a black carpenter, who lost the house during the Depression; while there is no record, it is assumed that Stokes did the construction himself. A rental property during the early and mid 1930s, the house was occupied from 1938 until 1960 by the Wilson branch of the Hamilton Funeral Home of Goldsboro, Levi Hamilton, Proprietor. The house is sheltered beneath a hip roof that is pierced by stuccoed chimneys which have handsome corbeled caps. A three-bay porch with a turned balustrade is carried by turned posts across the three-bay facade. One-over-one windows in plain surrounds and a boxed cornice complete the center hall plan dwelling. A large shed or or shed addition with rear porch occupies the rear elevation. In 1960 Hamilton moved to new quarters on Stantonsburg Road. This house has been used for rental since.


#66. United City Cab Stand, 534 East Nash Street.

This tiny, cement blocked, flat-roofed structure was built as a taxi stand ca 1960 on the site of the Mack Bynum house, a ca 1900 two-story house which was torn down in the late 1940s. The ten-by-twelve foot building has a small bathroom extension at the rear and small windows. It has been vacant since 1983.


#67. Artis Barber Shop, 535-537 East Nash Street.

This two-story, two-storefront, cement block commercial building, now hidden behind a pierced aluminum screen and having been given modern glass storefronts in the mid 1960s, was built in the late 1920s as rental property and occupied the site of two frame one-story buildings. The northwest side elevation is blind on the first story and has three modern windows on the second story. The interior has also been remodeled; apartments have occupied the second story since 1938. The 535 store had as its first occupant barber T.J. Honson, who was followed, successively, by Dorothy Garrett’s restaurant, the offices of Dr. William C. Hines, Wade’s Shoe Repair, and, since the late 1960s, Wigarama. The grocery of W.T. Lucas was the first occupant of the 537 storefront. In 1938, Separise P. Artis opened a barbershop here which he still operates. He bought the building in 1944.


535, 537 and 539 Nash Street Southeast.

#68. Sutzer-Taylor House, 536 East Nash Street.

Mary Jane Sutzer (___-1929) had this two-story, single-pile house erected ca 1915 in front of a small, one-story dwelling which she had purchased from Alfred Roberson [Robinson]. One of Wilson’s most enterprising black women, she managed the old Union Hotel (razed in the 1930s) at 541 East Nash Street for many years and also operated several restaurants in the 500 block of East Nash Street. The house features a projecting, pedimented central bay and a three-bay porch carried by turned posts that also has a central projection over the steps; a turned balustrade connects the posts. One-over-one sash windows, interior rear brick chimneys and returning boxed eaves complete the house. A transverse, gable-roofed wing with an ell is at the rear of the house. The house has been covered with aluminum siding and is currently used as a rooming house. In the rear yard are two small, four-bay by one-bay, two-room bungaloid houses.

The house was inherited by her son, the Rev. R. Buxton Taylor (1878-1954), who occupied the house until his death. A 1911 graduate of Livingstone College in Salisbury, Taylor later attended Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte where he received a theology degree in 1918. A minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Taylor served a number of pastorates in North and South Carolina before coming to Wilson in the late 1920s. While in Wilson he taught at the Pinetop School in the County [actually, in Edgecombe County] and served churches in Stantonsburg and Snow Hill.


#69. Sutzer-Taylor Rental House, 538 East Nash Street.

This small, one-story, Colonial Revival cottage was built as rental property by Mary Jane Taylor Sutzer (___-1929) about 1905. She lived in the adjacent house at 536 east Nash Street and resided here only briefly ca 1915 while the two-story front block was being built on her house. The house is sheltered beneath a hip roof and has a projecting front, gable-roofed bay at the east corner. Unfortunate alterations in the 1960s included the partial closing of the front porch, the replacement of many windows and the application of asbestos shingles. Upon Mrs. Sutzer’s death, both houses were left to her son, Rev. R. Buxton Taylor (1878-1954), who lived at 536 and kept his as rental property. Dr. D.C. Yancey, a pharmacist who operated the Ideal Pharmacy at 563 East Nash Street (now gone), lived here for many years. A 1906 graduate of the Leonard School of Pharmacy at Shaw University in Raleigh, Yancey was the first black pharmacist in Wilson. Buxton’s daughter, Beatrice T. Barnes, has occupied the house since 1947.


536 Nash Street Southeast, right, and 542 Nash Street Southeast (see below).

#70. Libby McPhatter Building, 541-545 East Nash Street.

This simple, one-story, two-bay building was erected ca 1950 by black businesswoman Libbie (McDonald) McPhatter (1905-1981), the proprietor of Libby’s Cafe here. It was one of two buildings to replace the Hotel Union, a three-story frame hotel for Negroes which had burned in the late 1940s. The Hotel Union had been built in 1908 (according to the Sanborn maps) and was later known as the Whitley Hotel. This simply finished, ca 1950, brick building has two pairs of recessed storefronts, each of which has had only minor modifications. The upper facade lacks any decorative brickwork and has a tile-capped parapet. The interiors are simply finished. Libby McPhatter operated Libby’s Cafe in the 541 double storefront until the early 1970s, when she turned over its operations to Neta Dupree; the cafe has been known as Neta Dupree’s Cafe since 1981. The first occupant of the narrow 543 store was Rosa Arrington‘s Beauty Shop; since the mid 1950s the North Carolina Mutual Insurance Company, the state’s leading black-owned insurance company, has maintained its Wilson offices here. The 545 store was first occupied by Smith Furniture, and since ca 1956 has been occupied by Zelma’s and Lucille’s Beauty Shop.


Demolished. Western end of former site of 541-571 Nash Street Southeast.

#71. Anne Mitchell House, 542 East Nash Street.

This rather large, two-story Colonial Revival house was built in the mid 1910s for Anne Mitchell by her sons, Floyd and Albert, who were carpenters. Asymmetrically massed with projecting bays on the front (northeast) and southeast, the house is sheltered beneath a bellcast hip roof which is pierced by large brick chimneys with heavy corbeled caps. An altered porch extends across the front of the house. Completing the house are molded and returning boxed cornices and one-over-one sash windows. The entry hall contains an excellent quarter-turn staircase with paneled newels and is illuminated by beveled and colored windows with a fleur-de-lis motif. Several of the Colonial Revival mantels have overmantels of Tuscan columns. The interior has seen some modifications, including some simulated wood paneling, but is basically intact. Mrs. Mitchell lived here until her death in the 1920s. Her sons stayed until their deaths in the late 1930s, at which time the house was sold. Mrs. Bessie Richardson, the mother of the owner, has lived here since 1940.

#72. Rental house, 544 East Nash Street.

A simple, one-story, frame dwelling, this house was built in the mid-1900s, according to the Sanborn Insurance maps, and is three bays wide underneath a gable roof and is flanked by exterior, single-shoulder chimneys. The original northwest chimney is stuccoed. Finishing details are a three-bay porch with replacement posts, six-over-six sash windows in plain board surrounds, boxed cornices that return at the gable ends and a short rear ell. Built as a rental property, this house has been occupied by several families. Henry Uzzle, a furniture repairer, lived here for the longest period in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.


 #73. Commercial building, 547-549 East Nash Street.

This modest, two-storefront, one-story, brick commercial building was one of two built ca 1950 to replace the three-story Hotel Union which had burned in the late 1940s. The Union Hotel was built by 1908 (according to the Sanborn maps) and was one of the earliest hotels in Wilson for blacks; the hotel was later known as the Whitley Hotel. This facade has a recessed central entrance for both stores; unfortunately the windows and transoms have been covered. The upper facade contains a simple recessed panel and a metal-capped parapet wall. The buildings’ original occupants remain in their respective stores, Bailey Radio and TV in number 547 and Carroll’s Billiards in number 549.


#74. Dr. J.B. Rosemond Office, 548 East Nash Street.

This boxy brick building was built in 1967 by Dr. J.B. Rosemond and has a short, flat roof, large front window and corner entrance porch with a wrought iron post.


548 Nash Street Southeast at left of empty lot formerly occupied by 544.

#75. Odd Fellows Hall, 549-551 East Nash Street.

Built in 1894 (cornerstone) for the Hannibal Lodge Number 1552, this three-story, six-bay, brick structure is the oldest completely preserved commercial building in Wilson and is an important landmark in East Wilson, the historic black neighborhood. The lodge occupied the third story, with the first story devoted to commercial enterprises and the second to offices and various business concerns. The building was built for Samuel H. Vick (1863-1946), one of Wilson’s leading blacks, who was extremely active in promoting fraternal organizations in the black communities of the state at the turn of the century; in the 1908 city directory, Vick is listed as permanent secretary of this lodge. Vick was also extremely active in the religious, social, banking, educational, and civic activities of Wilson’s expanding Negro population, and served as the postmaster from 1889 to 1894 and 1898 to 1903. The officers of the Hannibal Lodge were among the most prominent citizens of the black community and included J. Lewis Williams, A.D. Dawson, M.H. Cotton, Jacob Speight, and Dr. F.S. Hargrove [Hargrave]. The lodge disbanded in the early 1920s.

The facade is comprised of three identical, two-bay fronts; the only difference is that the 551 is a lighter shade of brick. The first story of 549 is essentially intact. Each of the three entrances has a transom with segmental drip molds; only one has a replacement door. The first story of 551 was altered in the mid 1970s by the replacement of the central door with two windows. The second and third stories both contain four-over-four sash windows in segmental surrounds with corbeled, segmental drip moldings. These drop moldings are connected by a corbeled band just above mid-window, thus uniting all six windows. The sills are cut stone. Crowning the facade is a noteworthy cornice composed of abbreviated, corbeled pilasters, a frieze of recessed panels, and a cornice consisting of a row of brick soldier course dentils and top most bands of corbeled brick. The side elevations are identical and have seven bays containing the same windows with segmental drip moldings as on the front but minus the connecting corbeled band. The six-bay rear elevation is identical to the others with the exception of doors in the central bay of each store and a door in the northwest end bay of the second story that is reached by a wooden stair from the rear. A small cement block shed and a cement block fuel barrel holder hide a portion of the first story.

The first story interior contains a single large room in number 549 which has plaster walls and a tongue-and-groove ceiling. Number 551 is similarly is similarly furnished and is used for stooge by the owner; it had been divided into two narrow stores by a partition that was removed in the mid 1970s. The northwest front leads to the stairs that rise along the northwest elevation to the second floor. Here the main hall extends from front to rear. Another hall to the southeast provides access to the five apartments on the second story; each door has a transom. A hall that extends across the rear of the building leads to the bathroom in the south corner of the building. From the rear of the second story hall rises the enclosed stair along the rear wall to the third story. It opens onto a rear hall that contains a bathroom in the south corner. Single doors lead to the two, equal size lodge rooms; there is no direct access between these rooms. Both rooms are plastered and have wainscots and ceilings of beaded tongue-and-groove boards. At the front of each room is a raised platform. The room in 551 contains four tables/lecterns built of diagonally laid beaded tongue-and-groove boards with molded corners. Lodge emblems decorate these lecterns.

A number of businesses have been located in the Odd Fellows Building. There is no record of the original occupants on the first and second stories, and Sanborn Insurance maps do not cover this part of Nash Street until 1908. At that a drug store is shown in the first story of 549 and a general store in 551; the 1908 city directory does not provide the name for either business. Successive occupants of 549 include Baker Brothers Grocery and, since 1936, Carroll’s Billiards. The first story of 551 has been successively occupied, after the general store, by Kattar Fahad Billiards, and the restaurant of Alonca Davis ca 1936. The store was apparently not partitioned until ca 1941, when the city directories show Mack’s Merchandise (Daniel McKeithen, proprietor) and Betty’s and later Mae’s Beauty Shop sharing the 551 store until the mid 1970s, when the partition wall was removed. The second story has been used for apartments, offices, beauty salons and, from ca 1916 until ca 1928 it housed the Globe Theatre, the first black owned and managed moving picture shown Wilson; this was another of the many enterprises of S.H. Vick. The third floor has only been used for storage since the disbanding of the Odd Fellows Lodge in the early 1920s.


1922 Sanborn Insurance Company map showing Odd Fellows Hall, which is now demolished.

#76. Alston-Williams Building, 552 East Nash Street.

Built ca 1920 as a jewelry shop for Robert T. Alston, this plainly-finished, one-story, brick commercial building was occupied by him until the 1940s. The flat-roofed building has a tile-capped parapet and its original recessed entrance and flanking display windows, but displays no decorative brickwork on the upper facade. The single interior space has been renovated and had a lowered ceiling. Since being vacated by Alston, this building has been occupied by Lamm’s Fish Shop, Hill’s Bicycle Shop, Keen’s Seafood Market, and since 1968, by William’s Barber Shop.


552 Nash Street Southeast, at left.

#77. Commercial building, 553 East Nash Street.

This small, one-story brick store was erected in the 1920s by C.L. Darden (1884-1956) as rental property. Darden was a prominent black funeral director who also built several rental buildings on East Nash Street including the Darden Building at 559-561 East Nash Street. Although the building at 553 East Nash Street retains its original recessed entrance, its transom has been covered. The top of the facade is a simple corbeled brick cornice. The building’s first occupant was a furniture store, name unknown. From ca 1941 until the 1950s it was occupied by two groceries, first the Progressive Store and later by Alton Sharpe. During the 1960s and 1970 Wardrobe Cleaners was located here. It is presently vacant.


#78. Commercial building, 555 East Nash Street.

This small, traditional, one-story, brick commercial building was erected in the 1920s by C.L. Darden (1884-1956), a prominent black funeral director. Its plainly detailed facade has seen modest changes in its recessed storefront, including the covering of the transom. A simple corbeled cornice crowns the facade. First occupied by the fish market of James Eaton, this building has been occupied since ca 1941 by a succession of beauty shops.


#79. Commercial building, 557 East Nash Street.

C.L. Darden (1884-1956), a prominent black funeral director, had this modest, one-story, brick, rental commercial building built in the 1920s, according to the Sanborn Insurance maps. It is flanked by other rental buildings which Darden built, including the handsome ca 1926 Darden Building at 559-561 East Nash Street. This simply detailed two-bay building has a large display window on the southeast and a simple door on the northwest; both have brick soldier course lintels. A simple corbeled brick cornice crowns the facade. Oscar Reid, a cleaner-presser, was the first occupant, and he was succeeded by Wardrobe Cleaners, Dr. Joseph Cowan, Romulus Murphy, a lawyer, and the quarters for the Christie Memorial Lodge 32 B.P.O. It has been vacant for several years.


#80. Commercial building, 559-561 East Nash Street.

Erected in the mid 1920s as a rental property by C.L. Darden (1884-1956), a prominent leader in Wilson’s black community, this two-story, two-storefront, four-bay commercial building followed a popular commercial form in Wilson of that period in which most of the architectural interest was supplied by decorative brickwork and stone insets. The architect is unknown, but may very well have been Charles C. Benton (1887-1960), who designed a house for Darden at 200 North Pender Street about the same time. Here, the building is further distinguished by the quoin-like first floor piers that flank the building and the central arch headed entrance to the second floor. The entrance has a flush, triangular pediment with a brick, basketweave pattern. Soldier courses comprise the lintels and extend across the boarded-up transoms. A stepped, stone-capped parapet gable crowns the facade. Unfortunately, both first floor storefront windows have been altered and the central entrance has been marred by a new door placed flush with the facade instead of its original recessed location. The southeast (right) elevation has three windows of varying sizes clustered in the center of the second floor. The rear elevation is bays wide with segmental arches above the four-over-four sash windows. A small cement block shed has been added at he southwest corner of the rear. Occupants of 559 have been Wardrobe Cleaners during the 1930s until the 1950s when it moved to 561, where it remained until 1964. Since the 1950s, the 559 storefront has housed several short-lived businesses, and has been vacant at several times. The first occupant of 561 was the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, which stayed until the early 1940s., when the storefront was taken over by the Manhattan Billiard Parlor. After being vacant ca 1950, housing Wardrobe Cleaners from the mid 1950s until 1964, and Keen’s Seafood until the 1970s, number 561 has been occupied by Mae’s Beauty Shop since the late 1970s. The second story for many years, from ca 1936 until the 1950s, housed offices for the Colored County Farm and Home Demonstration Agents and the dentist office of Dr. George Butterfield.

Camillus L. Darden was the son of Charles H. Darden (1854-1931), a prominent black undertaker in Wilson and the founder in 1875 of a funeral business which continues today as the Darden Funeral Home. C.L. Darden attended Browns Embalming School in Raleigh and Eckels College in Philadelphia, was a charter member of the North Carolina Funeral Directors Association, and was a member of the Board of Trustees of Mercy Hospital, Wilson’s first hospital for blacks. He organized several burial societies, including the Saratoga, the St. Rose and the Newvester societies and was a member of the Christian Aid Burial Society. A prominent church leader, Darden was chairman of the building committee when the present edifice of the St. John’s African Methodist Episcopal Church was erected in 1915.


#81. (former) C.E. Artis Funeral Home, 567-571 East Nash Street.

One of only two black funeral directors in Wilson, Columbus Estelle Artis (1886- 1973) had this modest, one-story, three-storefront building erected in 1922. His funeral business occupied the 571 store until the mid 1950s when he retired and closed his business; the other two stores have always been used for rental purposes, except for a brief period from ca 1945 until ca 1951 when Artis expanded his funeral home into the 569 store. The stuccoed brick structure has narrow stores at 567 and 569 that contain a simple door and a large adjacent display window, both of which have transoms of clear glass. The store at 571 East Nash Street has a central door with flanking display windows, also with transoms. Unfortunately, all of the windows and three of the window transoms have been boarded up. The blind northwest elevation originally abutted the drug store occupied by Darcey C. Yancey during the 1940s and 1950s; this building was razed in the mid 1960s. The rear elevation of the Artis building has a one central door per store. The southeast elevation wall is adjacent to the Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church, which has maintained offices of the Artis building since 1980.


Demolished. Image depicts addition to Jackson Chapel built on former site of Artis Funeral Home.

A month will pass before the news reaches him.


Colored American (Washington, D.C.), 2 February 1901.

On 29 November 1892, Owen L.W. Smith, 41, of Wilson County, married Adora E. Oden, 22, of Carteret County in Carteret County. It was Smith’s second marriage.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Owens Smith, 49, minister; wife Adora, 30; son Jesse, 19; daughter Flossie, 4; widowed mother Maria Hicks, 78, a midwife; and boarder Carry Pettiford, a widowed teacher.

Flossie Smith is the child who died of burns. She is referred to as an “only child” in the article above, though Owen and Adora Smith adopted two children, Jesse A. Smith and Carrie Emma, who died as a teenager.


The grave markers of Owen Smith’s daughter Carrie and mother Maria Hicks in the Masonic cemetery, Wilson.


Flossie Smith’s mother, Adora Estelle Oden Smith (1870-1906).

Photo of gravemarkers taken by Lisa Y. Henderson in November 2015; photo of Adora Oden Smith courtesy of Wilson County Public Library.

Done out of $3000.


News & Observer (Raleigh), 28 June 1907.

  • Samuel H. Vick
  • John F. Collins — I have found no record of John Collins living in Wilson. Possibly, in the 1910 census of Washington, D.C.: at 2010 Third Street, N.W., John F. Collins, 32, lawyer in general practice, born in North Carolina; wife Alice E., 29; and son John F., Jr., 2. Collins in the 1920, 1930 and 1940 censuses of Washington employed as a mail carrier with wife Alice and sons John and William K. Collins.

Shrewd, pugnacious, saucy, intelligent Negro gives advice.


Wilson Advance, 11 June 1891.

  • Charles H. Darden
  • Susie Harris — Susie J. Harris, age illegible, married James J. Wilson, 23, on 5 January 1893 in Wilson. S.J. Melton, Presbyterian minister, performed the ceremony at the Baptist church in the presence of M.H. Cotton, S.H. Vick, and Edmund Pool. In the 1910 census of Wadesboro, Anson County: clergyman James J. Wilson, 43; wife Susie, 43, a schoolteacher; and children Mattie M., 13, Frank T., 11, Nannie R., 8, Charles E., 6, and Ophelia, 4. In the 1920 census of Wadesboro, Anson County: Presbyterian minister James J. Wilson, 52; wife Susie J., 52; and children Frank T., 20, Nannie R., 18, a teacher, Charles E., 16, Ophelia A., 13, and Lena, 8. Susie J. Wilson died 13 October 1925 in Wadesboro, Anson County. Per her death certificate: she was 57 years old; was born in Wilson to Jas. Harris and Nancy Hill; was married to Rev. J.J. Wilson; and worked as county superintendent for the North Carolina Board of Education. Informant was F.T. Wilson, 213 Oakwood Drive, Orange, New Jersey.
  • Charles H. Bynum


The Messenger and Intelligencer (Wadesboro), 1 May 1919.

Now That He Is Safely Dead.

A Dead Man’s Dream

Now that he is safely dead,
Let us praise him.
Build monuments to his glory.
Sing Hosannas to his name.

Dead men make such convenient heroes.
For they cannot rise to challenge the images
That we might fashion from their lives.
It is easier to build monuments
Than to build a better world.

So now that he is safely dead,
We, with eased consciences will
Teach our children that he was a great man,
Knowing that the cause for which he
Lived is still a cause
And the dream for which he died is still a dream.
A dead man’s dream.

Carl Wendell Hines, Jr.


Carl W. Hines Jr. penned this devastating poem in 1965 on the occasion of the assassination of Malcolm X, but it is often, and perhaps more appropriately, associated with the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. Hines was born in Wilson in 1940, son of Carl W. Hines and Ruth Johnson Hines and grandson of Walter Scott Hines and Sarah Dortch Hines.

Herbert Reid, Harvard Law, Class of ’45.

More on Herbert O. Reid, Wilson-born scholar and civil rights attorney.


IN THE FIELD of constitutional law and in the protection of civil rights, Herbert O. Reid, who died on Friday at the age of 75, stood out. Because of Dr. Reid, a brilliant professor and former acting dean of the Howard University Law School, thousands of men and women across the country share a common vision of the majesty of the Constitution and the workability of America.

Except for his first year as a Howard Law School professor in 1947, when he said he learned more from his students than he taught them, Herb Reid had a major hand in producing a host of this country’s most distinguished lawyers, public officials and judges. Many served with him during the decades of the 1950s and 1960s as legal guardians of the civil rights movement. But unlike many legal scholars, Dr. Reid was as comfortable in the courtroom and in the backroom of politics as he was in the classroom. Everywhere he landed, he became a pivotal figure. He took on the exclusion of New York Rep. Adam Clayton Powell from the House of Representatives in 1967 and won a U.S. Supreme Court victory two years later. School segregation in America fell before him and a handful of lawyers from the Howard Law School faculty and the NAACP who participated in the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education and the companion desegregation cases for the District of Columbia. They carried the day in court, in part, because of the preparation and the dry runs that took place under Herb Reid’s drilling in the basement of the law school.

Dr. Reid was always on call for rescue operations. Sixteen years ago, when the board of education was mired down in the firing of yet another school superintendent, it was he who took on the excruciatingly difficult role of hearing officer and, with a degree of incisiveness and dignity, helped end that long ordeal for the city. It was that sense of duty to the city and his friends from the movement that led Dr. Reid to serve as former mayor Marion Barry’s personal counsel and then as a member of that administration. Without Herb Reid’s being there, friends say, it could have been even worse.

A graduate of Harvard law school himself, Dr. Reid frequently spoke lovingly and longingly about the “golden age” of the Howard Law School — the period in the 1940s and early 1950s, when distinguished faculty worked with students and other lawyers on the major civil rights issues of the time. Herbert Reid was a central part of it all.

Washington Post, 17 June 1991.


On 16 October 1940, Reid registered for the World War II draft at the Harvard University precinct in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


New York Age, 8 December 1945.


New York Age, 12 July 1947.

U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.