The North Carolina Central University (NCCU) School of Law has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation to establish the Private Booker T. Spicely Endowed Scholarship Fund. The scholarship will benefit law students actively involved with and enrolled in the Veterans Law Clinic, and who are working on issues impacting the legal and civil rights of veterans.
In 1944, Spicely, who was stationed at Camp Butner and on a pass into nearby Durham, was killed for allegedly failing to observe the segregated public transportation laws after boarding a Duke Power Company bus at the corner of Fayetteville and Pettigrew streets. His murder is considered among a series of outrages that contributed to rising activism in the Civil Rights Movement.
During the bus ride, the driver, Herman Lee Council, told Spicely along with another Black soldier and a young woman and her son to move to the last seat for white soldiers who boarded, as public transportation was segregated in the state. According to a sworn statement by the young woman, the Black passengers were already in the back area of the bus, and not in the front as reported. The woman moved, but Spicely refused, initially asking the other soldiers why he needed to move since he was not aware of the laws of the state. When Spicely disembarked from the bus, Council followed and shot him twice. Council was tried for second-degree murder of Spicely, but acquitted by an all-white jury on the grounds of self-defense. NAACP Chief Counsel Thurgood Marshall was involved in prosecuting the case.
“We are honored to collaborate with the Duke Energy Foundation as we further our commitment to those who valiantly protect our country and have contributed so much to communities across North Carolina and the nation,” said Malik Edwards, interim dean of NCCU School of Law. “We are all accountable to the urgent work of building a more just, more equitable world and this partnership sends a clear signal of our law school’s enduring commitment.”
The NCCU Veterans Clinic is designed to meet the ongoing needs of current and former service members in the state of North Carolina. Of note, the clinic handles benefit claims in various stages of appeals. Cases may revolve around disability claims, survivors’ benefits, pension and other issues. Services are free to those who qualify as in need or who are able to meet the financial eligibility standards as determined by the appropriate legal standards.
WHAT: Duke Energy Foundation $100,000 check presentation
WHEN: Wednesday, Feb. 1, 1 p.m.
WHERE: Albert L. Turner School of Law Building, Great Hall, 640 Nelson Street, Durham, NC 27707
Media are invited to attend the check presentation. Duke Energy representatives and members of the Spicely family will be present. Media parking is available next to the Albert L. Turner School of Law Building, behind the LeRoy T. Walker Physical Education and Recreation Complex.