On February 7, 2012, Tom Rodd will present “J. R. Clifford and the Carrie Williams Case” at the Tuesday evening lecture in the Archives and History Library. The program will begin at 6:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
In 1887, J. R. Clifford became the first African American to pass the West Virginia bar examination, and, in 1898, he argued the landmark case Williams v. Board of Education of Fairfax District before the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. Tucker County’s Fairfax District board had reduced the school term of African American schools from eight to five months to save money, but black teacher Carrie Williams continued teaching for the entire eight months. When the board refused to pay her for the additional time, J. R. Clifford filed a lawsuit that resulted in a Supreme Court decision in favor of Williams and against racial discrimination.
Thomas Rodd is a graduate of Fairmont State University and the WVU College of Law and currently is an assistant attorney general in the Appellate Division of the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office. According to Rodd, he has had a passion for history for 30 years. He has been involved in telling J. R. Clifford's story since 2004 and is the author of a historical play on Clifford and the Williams case. Rodd believes that “hearing the story of ‘J.R. Clifford and the Carrie Williams Case’ helps people today to understand West Virginia history in a unique way. The events and characters in the story are exciting, colorful, and entertaining—and they are also inspiring.”
On February 7, the library will close at 5 p.m. and reopen at 5:45 p.m. for participants only. For planning purposes, participants are encouraged to register for the workshop, but advance registration is not required to attend. To register in advance, contact Robert Taylor, library manager, by e-mail or at (304) 558-0230, ext. 163. Participants interested in registering by e-mail should send their name, telephone number and the name and date of the session. For additional information, contact the Archives and History Library at (304) 558-0230.
West Virginia Archives and History Workshops/Lectures