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Honorable U. W. Clemon in Miles College, Black History Month Spotlight

Article Date:
02/10/14
Category:
Alumni Spotlight

Honorable U. W. Clemon in Miles College, Black History Month Spotlight

U. W. Clemon (born April 9, 1943) is a retired federal judge.

Clemon was born in Fairfield, Alabama. At age 13, he decided to become a lawyer. While a student at Miles College in 1962, he confronted the infamous Bull Connor over Birmingham's segregation laws. He marched with Dr. Martin Luther King during the demonstrations the following year, and desegregated the Birmingham Public Library. After graduating from New York's Columbia Law School in 1968, he returned to Birmingham and practiced civil rights law for twelve years.

Clemon handled school desegregation cases throughout North Alabama. He sued Paul "Bear" Bryant in 1969 to desegregate the University of Alabama's football team. He also brought employment discrimination cases against some of the largest employers in Alabama.

In 1974, Clemon was one of the first two blacks elected to the Alabama Senate since Reconstruction. As chairman of the Rules Committee and later the Judiciary Committee, he fought against Governor George Wallace's exclusion of black citizens from state boards and agencies and the reinstatement of the death penalty.

Jimmy Carter in 1980 appointed Clemon as Alabama's first black federal judge when he nominated him for a seat on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. He later became the chief judge of the Northern District. He was the trial judge in the Ledbetter v. Goodyear case and in several multi-district cases.

Clemon retired from the judiciary on January 31, 2009. He now practices law in Birmingham.



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