Assuring Human Rights in the Court of Law

Alexander Looby was born in 1899 in the British West Indies. He lost both parents by the time he was 15 and decided to immigrate to America. Even though he was an orphan, he was able to attend Howard University for his bachelor’s degree and Columbia University for law school.

When Alexander received his law degree, he moved to Nashville to establish a private practice. He became known as part of a defense team representing 25 African Americans charged in a so-called race riot. He won acquittals for 24 of the defendants and got a reduced sentence for the other one.

Alex continued to represent African Americans in discrimination cases. In one case, his legal action led to the desegregation of Nashville schools.

When students tried to integrate public places, Alex defended students who were arrested. During the defense, Alex’s house was destroyed by a powerful bomb. The bombing didn’t stop his defense work, and he was able to win a dismissal of charges for 91 students.

Alex saw elected politics as a way to change the system. He got elected to the Nashville City Council. In total, he served for 20 years in the Nashville city government.

Alex died at the age of 72. Ten years after his death, the Nashville Bar Association accepted his membership posthumously. They had denied him membership when he first applied over 20 years before.

Hidden heroes have courage above and beyond others. They are driven by what they think is the moral thing to do. Alexander Dooby is little known today for his courage in winning human rights cases in the court of law. But without his defense advocacy, human rights progress would not have advanced as fast as it did.

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            “Any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one already.”– Henry David Thoreau (Philosopher)

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