Dovey Johnson Roundtree (April 17, 1914 – May 21, 2018) was an African-American civil rights activist, ordained minister, and attorney. Her 1955 victory before the Interstate Commerce Commission in the first bus desegregation case to be brought before the ICC resulted in the only explicit repudiation of the "separate but equal" doctrine in the field of interstate bus transportation by a court or federal administrative body. That case, Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company (64 MCC 769 (1955)), which Dovey Roundtree brought before the ICC with her law partner and mentor Julius Winfield Robertson, was invoked by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy during the 1961 Freedom Riders' campaign in his successful battle to compel the Interstate Commerce Commission to enforce its rulings and end Jim Cro

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  • Dovey Johnson Roundtree (April 17, 1914 – May 21, 2018) was an African-American civil rights activist, ordained minister, and attorney. Her 1955 victory before the Interstate Commerce Commission in the first bus desegregation case to be brought before the ICC resulted in the only explicit repudiation of the "separate but equal" doctrine in the field of interstate bus transportation by a court or federal administrative body. That case, Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company (64 MCC 769 (1955)), which Dovey Roundtree brought before the ICC with her law partner and mentor Julius Winfield Robertson, was invoked by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy during the 1961 Freedom Riders' campaign in his successful battle to compel the Interstate Commerce Commission to enforce its rulings and end Jim Crow laws in public transportation. A protégé of black activist and educator Mary McLeod Bethune, Roundtree was selected by Bethune for the first class of African-American women to be trained as officers in the newly created Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (later the Women's Army Corps) during World War II. In 1961 she became one of the first women to receive full ministerial status in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which had just begun ordaining women at a level beyond mere preachers in 1960. With her controversial admission to the all-white Women's Bar of the District of Columbia in 1962, she broke the color bar for minority women in the Washington legal community. In one of Washington's most sensational and widely covered murder cases, United States v. Ray Crump, tried in the summer of 1965 on the eve of the Watts riots, Roundtree won acquittal for the black laborer accused of the murder of Georgetown socialite (and former wife of a CIA officer) Mary Pinchot Meyer, a woman with romantic ties to President John F. Kennedy. The founding partner of the Washington, D.C. law firm of Roundtree, Knox, Hunter and Parker in 1970 following the death of her first law partner Julius Robertson in 1961, Roundtree was special consultant for legal affairs to the AME Church, and General Counsel to the National Council of Negro Women. She was the inspiration for actress Cicely Tyson's depiction of a maverick civil rights lawyer in the television series "Sweet Justice", and the recipient, along with retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, of the American Bar Association's 2000 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award. In 2011 a scholarship fund was created in her name by the Charlotte Chapter of the National Alumnae Association of Spelman College. Roundtree also received the 2011 Torchbearer Award from the Women's Bar Association of the District of Columbia, the organization which she integrated in 1962. Following her death in 2018, the Women's Bar of DC created The Dovey Roundtree Rule to guide Washington law firms in increasing the hiring of minority women for leadership positions. In March 2013 an affordable senior living facility in the Southeast Washington DC community where she ministered was named "The Roundtree Residences" in her honor. She turned 100 in April 2014 and died at the age of 104 in May 2018. In June 2020, amid nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, a $ 40 million donation to Spelman College from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his wife Patty Quillin funded a scholarship that Spelman named for Dovey Johnson Roundtree. Calling the donation "a historic gift in response to the historic moment we are experiencing," Spelman president Mary Schmidt Campbell noted that Hastings' overall gift of $ 120 million to Spelman and two other institutions was the largest single donation ever made to Historically Black Colleges and Universities. (en)
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  • Dovey Johnson Roundtree (April 17, 1914 – May 21, 2018) was an African-American civil rights activist, ordained minister, and attorney. Her 1955 victory before the Interstate Commerce Commission in the first bus desegregation case to be brought before the ICC resulted in the only explicit repudiation of the "separate but equal" doctrine in the field of interstate bus transportation by a court or federal administrative body. That case, Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company (64 MCC 769 (1955)), which Dovey Roundtree brought before the ICC with her law partner and mentor Julius Winfield Robertson, was invoked by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy during the 1961 Freedom Riders' campaign in his successful battle to compel the Interstate Commerce Commission to enforce its rulings and end Jim Cro (en)
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