Louis L. Redding, the civil rights pioneer of Wilmington, Del., who died last September, will be memorialized with an endowed professorship at the University of Delaware, which he helped desegregate in 1949.
The Louis L. Redding Chair for the Study of Law and Public Policy in UD's College of Human Resources, Education and Public Policy will be filled by a scholar, teacher and community leader who will continue Mr. Redding's commitment to the use of the law to achieve social justice for all Americans.
"Louis Redding was a distinguished American who promoted civil rights and social justice, helped desegregate our schools and our University and displayed singular courage and devotion to the highest ideals," UD President David P. Roselle said. "What better way to honor this great man's legacy than to educate future leaders in the area of law and public policy?"
To endow the chair, friends of the University, friends of Louis Redding and other civic and business leaders have committed to raising at least $1 million. Nearly $800,000 already has been raised toward the goal, most of it from law firms and members of the Delaware Bar. After the publication of a nationally syndicated column by Norman Lockman of the Wilmington News Journal, a member of the fundraising committee, special gifts began to arrive. They included several gifts from historically black congregations of small churches; a woman who sent in $6 with a note that she wished she could do more; and a $10 money order from a prisoner in the Delaware Correctional Center.
"Louis Redding played a major role in shaping the character of the University of Delaware and our nation, and we are honored and delighted to pay tribute to him through a special named professorship, We are very appreciative of the efforts of the friends of the University who will make the Redding chair a reality," Roselle said.
The purpose of the Redding chair is to recognize and to teach others about Mr. Redding's legacy-the use of law to influence public policy-and to educate future leaders about the impact that the law can have in making constructive and important public policy changes.
The Redding professor will work with faculty, staff and students in UD's graduate School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy in the College of Human Resources, Education and Public Policy. The professor also will work with undergraduate students, focusing on the critical role of the law in public policy and social change.
As an active resource for the wider community, the Redding professor also will be committed to engaging community leaders and citizens on critical public issues, participating in research and public service projects for governmental agencies and community organizations and sharing the products of research and analysis with academic, professional and public audiences across the nation.
Other public activities associated with the Redding chair will include an annual conference on issues of race, diversity, law and public policy, which will include community leaders and recognized national scholars and which will be designed to stimulate dialog within the Delaware community.
According to Jeffrey A. Raffel, director of UD's School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy and author of the just-published Historical Dictionary of School Segregation and Desegregation, "The faculty of our school have a longstanding commitment to research, public service and teaching in support of the values of equality and diversity. We look forward to the Redding professor providing leadership and scholarship in the areas of law and public policy for the school, college, University and the nation."
Mr. Redding, a graduate of Howard High School in Wilmington, Del., and an alumnus of Brown University and Harvard Law School, was Delaware's first black lawyer. He supported efforts for civil rights during his distinguished career, and he was instrumental in the desegregation of the University of Delaware in 1949. He also argued a case on behalf of black school children in Delaware that was one of the cases leading to the Supreme Court's decision in 1954 to desegregate U.S. public schools.