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The Daily Tar Heel

Chambers Named Head Of Civil Rights Center

The Civil Rights Center of the University of North Carolina, which will begin operating in the spring, will work to raise awareness and knowledge of civil rights issues, said Gene Nichol, the dean of the law school.

"The principle goal is to further the study and understanding of civil rights and liberties issues," Nichol said.

Jack Boger, UNC law professor and deputy director of the center, said Chambers signed on last spring and was involved in the center's planning during the summer.

Nichol said Chambers, a graduate of the UNC's law school, is an ideal candidate for the director's position because of his extensive experience with civil rights issues. "Julius Chambers is the most accomplished civil rights lawyer in the United States," Nichol said. "He's an educator, a teacher and a great leader."

Chambers founded a law firm in Charlotte that won cases involving employment discrimination and school segregation in the 1970s.

He also served as director counsel of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Educational Fund from 1984 to 1993, where Boger worked with him.

As director, Chambers will teach a class this spring semester and oversee the direction of the center. "His hand will be in all the major decisions," Boger said.

Boger said the center plans to hold seminars, bring speakers to campus and do research, all while drawing on UNC and NCCU faculty with an interest in civil rights.

"A lot of things are still in progress," Boger said. "All these things have real attraction for us."

Boger said they hope to have their first conference this spring, drawing leaders from across the country.

The civil rights center has been in the works for more than two years, Nichol said. It will be housed in the School of Law, but Nichol said the center does not yet have office space. And while they have finished fund raising, Nichol said they do not have enough to support the staff, salary and conference costs the center will incur.

"We secured and set aside some private seed money, but it's not enough to see it through," he said.

"We hope to raise money to sustain the center."

Nichol said the formation of the center is especially important in light of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"I think there is no more of an important time to think about what it means to be an American," Nichol said.

"And that means to have a commitment to civil liberties."

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