Former student who helped desegregate UNC -CH dies at 94

July 30, 2018

A former University of North Carolina student whose lawsuit helped desegregate the university died last week at age 94.

J. Kenneth Lee was one of four African-American students named in a 1949 lawsuit that led to the desegregation of the university.

Lee and the other three plaintiffs were represented by Thurgood Marshall, then the director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and future U.S. Supreme Court Justice, according to the UNC website.

Lee, Harvey Beech, James Lassiter, Floyd McKissick and James Robert Walker were eventually able to enroll in the UNC School of Law in June 1951, becoming the first African-Americans to attend, UNC officials said.

Lee went on to become a civil rights attorney in Greensboro.

“Lee is one of the law school’s great citizens of the 20thcentury,” UNC School of Law Dean Martin Brinkley said. “His strength and commitment to justice paved the way for students not only at the law school but at the University. His tireless work arguing civil rights cases across North Carolina created positive changes that are still felt today and will continue to be felt for years to come.”

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