Former civil rights lawyer reflects on career

Wtww2 2017

A year ago, Russell Lovell, professor emeritus at Drake Law School, got a call from Benny Anders, the president of the Iowa-Nebraska chapter of the NAACP. Anders joked that now that Lovell was retired, he was now going to be working full time for the NAACP after years of being a volunteer civil rights lawyer. According to Lovell, “it’s been pretty much the case.”

Thursday evening, in the Eck School of Law, Lovell, a 1966 graduate of Notre Dame, discussed his many years with the NAACP, with whom he has been recently fighting the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. Lovell also spoke on his inspirations for becoming a civil rights lawyer, the challenges that caused within his family and the importance of public service and civility. Lovell’s talk is part of programming for Notre Dame’s “Walk the Walk” week, honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Lovell said that his passion for civil rights started with his admiration of Jackie Robinson as a child, when his mother bought him a book on the Brooklyn Dodgers second baseman.

Lovell said he was shocked by “the kind of harassment the kind of terrorism the kind of threats he faced being the black man who integrated this American game that was a white man’s game.”

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Originally published The Observer at on January 20, 2017.