Honoring NUBAA Notable Judge Horace Ward – Support the NUBAA Archives

horace ward m-1869

This information was forwarded from Dean Daniel B. Rodriguez of Northwestern Pritzker Law. As you read the letter and join us in celebrating the life of the Honorable Horace Ward (Law, ’59), we implore you to consider our need to stay connected as a community. Part of that effort should be realized by supporting the NUBAA Archives, a first of its kind effort to chronicle the 150+ year history of African-Americans at Northwestern.

Tomorrow is not promised. Please engage us in providing your stories and documents.

Horace Ward, Jimmy Carter, Nathaniel Jones
FILE – In a June 14, 2012 file photo, Judge Horace Ward, center, the first African American ever to serve on the federal bench in Georgia, stands with former President Jimmy Carter, left, and Judge Nathaniel Jones, right, after an award ceremony recognizing President Carter in Atlanta. Retired U.S. District Judge Horace Ward, a civil rights lawyer, died over the weekend of April 23-24, 2016, at age 88. Ward challenged segregationist practices at the University of Georgia in the early 1950s. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)


To:       Northwestern Pritzker Law Community     


From:   Dean Daniel B. Rodriguez


Re:       The Honorable Horace Ward ‘59


Date:    Monday, April 25

I write with the sad news that one of our most distinguished alums, the Honorable Horace Ward ‘59, retired federal district judge from Georgia, has passed away at the age of 88. Judge Ward’s story is a remarkable one, not easily communicated in a short notice, although the attached obituary does a good job of summarizing some of the highlights of Judge Ward’s remarkable journey.  Here is the notice from our program this fall during which Judge Ward received our highest award, the Distinguished Alumnus Award:

Horace Ward (JD ’59) received the Distinguished Alumnus Award, given to a graduate for extraordinary contributions to the legal field. After graduating from Northwestern Law, Ward returned to his native Georgia where he went on to have a trailblazing legal career. In 1960, Ward was part of a legal team that won a victory in the Georgia Court of Appeals, which secured the release of Martin Luther King Jr. from the Georgia State Prison after he had been arrested during a sit-in demonstration. In 1961, after previously being denied admission himself to the University of Georgia School of Law, he represented Hamilton Holmes and Charlyne Hunter, two African-American students, in the lawsuit that forced the University to desegregate. Ward was the second African-American ever elected to the Georgia State Senate and the first African-American to become a Superior Court judge in Georgia. He was appointed to the federal bench in 1979 by President Carter, and served as a US District Judge in the Northern District of Georgia until 2012.

Horace Ward was a true pathbreaker – a civil rights icon, a courageous lawyer, a role model, and an American hero.  He was also a gentleman, as those in our community fortunate enough to have spent time with him during his recent visits to our Law School will confirm.


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