President Lee C. Bollinger’s Statement on the Recent Death of Judge Robert L. Carter
Judge Carter’s life in many ways mirrored our nation’s 20th Century struggle for racial equality, and his work as a civil rights advocate and jurist stands as a beacon for all who trust the law to be a force for justice and fairness. Born in 1916 as the youngest of nine children, Judge Carter routinely confronted bigotry and state-sanctioned discrimination throughout his childhood, service in the U.S. Army, and young adulthood, yet he never lost faith in the capacity of America’s institutions to redeem the promise of equal justice under law. An alumnus of our Law School and recipient of an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Columbia, Judge Carter distinguished himself among an illustrious group of Columbians whose advocacy was pivotal in the mid-century fight to desegregate America’s schools and public facilities. A central figure on the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund team of lawyers led by Thurgood Marshall in the 1940s and 50s, Judge Carter forever will be remembered for his role in constructing the legal arguments which prevailed in Brown v. Board of Education and for serving as lead counsel in that historic case. We mourn his passing, extend our condolences to his family, and pledge to honor his efforts to see America fulfill its founding ideals.