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Library Exhibits

About The Exhibit

The Kathryn J. DuFour Law Library celebrates Black History Month with the installation of an exhibit honoring this year's theme, Black Resistance.  In particular we are proud to honor the work of the late Catholic University Law professor Leroy D. Clark, who spent his early career at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF), and played a critical role working alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, and other leaders of the civil rights movement, as an attorney in early civil rights cases.

Leroy D. Clark - Catholic University Law Professor (1981-2019)

Professor Clark was a legal legend and soldier in the Civil Rights Movement, having worked on the frontlines with Dr. King and his friend Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, among others. Professor Clark was that "one-in-a-million" individual, bringing unique perspectives on any range of issues taking place in the world and even in our school.  He was a powerful presence and profound voice in the many discussions and deliberations we had as a faculty, particularly when we were finding our way on important matters about who we wanted to be as a faculty body.

Veryl Victoria Miles, Professor of Law and former Dean of the Law School (2005 - 2012)

For 25 years, his classes in criminal law, criminal procedure and fair employment law made generations of Catholic University Law students sit up, listen closely and learn. Perhaps it’s because they realized that when Professor Leroy Clark spoke, they were hearing from a man who not only knew those bodies of law, but who helped to shape them as well. 

Mr. Clark was born on April 27, 1934 in New York, New York. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the City College of New York in 1956 and earned his law degree from Columbia University in 1961. He spent his early legal career at NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF), serving as a staff attorney from 1962 to 1968 - during the height of the civil rights movement. 

"My first job out of law school was Staff Counsel in the New York Attorney General’s Office. What I learned there was the enormous power of the law. At the time I worked there, we were confronting construction unions that were powerful. They had control over who had jobs in the construction industry, making the employers bystanders. This union had a very stable, predictable pattern of favoring family members; and unfortunately family members all turned out to be Italian or Irish or what have you. Blacks were literally being excluded. Our office got them held in contempt, which gradually began to change the way the construction unions in New York looked in terms of race.”  Professor Leroy Clark, CUA Lawyer, Winter 2003

In his first few years at LDF, Mr. Clark primarily worked in Florida, handling several school desegregation cases, along with others related to fair employment and criminal justice reform. He also collaborated with local attorneys across the state to file suits to desegregate businesses, including restaurants, hospitals, parks, and a barbershop. In the mid to late 1960s, Mr. Clark played an integral role in LDF’s civil rights work, serving alongside former LDF Director-Counsel Jack Greenberg to represent some of the most prominent and history-making civil rights icons and activists of that era. Mr. Clark was the supervisor of legal representation during LDF’s partnership with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign, a weeks-long 1968 protest to secure economic justice and equality for people of color. In this role, Mr. Clark helped put to-gether a comprehensive plan for LDF staff and volunteers to assist in carrying out campaign directives, something which former Director-Counsel Greenberg highlighted in his book, Crusaders in the Courts. Beyond his work with the Poor Peo-ple’s Campaign, Mr. Clark also provided legal support for protesters during many other historic civil rights demonstrations, including the Mississippi Freedom Rides, the Selma marches, and the St. Augustine movement, among others. 

Mr. Clark also defended a number of black men sentenced to death, recalling one memorable instance in which his legal maneuverings bought his client just enough time to have his death sentence vacated, after a conscience-stricken sheriff unexpectedly came forward and admitted that the damning evidence had been planted. “This event was my most memorable experience of the civil rights movement, because we literally got a bunch of people off death row that would have been killed,” said Clark. 

Mr. Clark died on November 24, 2019, at the age of 85. As a lawyer, Mr. Clark dedicated his career to protecting the rights of racial justice activists fighting to forever change the trajectory of this country – and was an integral part of this history-making movement himself. And, as a law professor, Mr. Clark shared his extensive knowledge of the legal system with classrooms full of students for nearly four decades, creating a legacy that continues to live on through the young people he mentored and guided as they made their first forays into their own legal careers.

Adapted from Eyewitness to History by Tom Haederle (CUA Lawyer, Spring–Summer 2006) and LDF Mourns the Loss of Leroy D. Clark, Former LDF Counsel and Venerated Law Professor (, Dec 6, 2019)

Books on Black Resistance

The following books on Black Resistance are all available for checkout.  During the month of February, these books are located on a book truck in the lobby of the Law Library.  Upon completion of Black History Month, the books will be shelved in the regular book stacks and can be found by their call number.

Judge Kathryn J. DuFour Law Library / 3600 John McCormack Road N.E., Washington, DC 20064 / 202-319-5155