U.S. District Judge J. Waties Waring, a forgotten hero of the civil rights era, will be honored Friday with a statue in Charleston.
Local, state and federal officials will gather at 2 p.m. in the garden behind the Federal Courthouse at Meeting and Broad streets to dedicate a statue of Waring, the Charleston native who inspired - and helped orchestrate - the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended school segregation 60 years ago.
"We welcome everyone to the ceremony," said local attorney Thomas Tisdale, chairman of the committee that commissioned the statue. "We think this is an important event in the history of this city."
Waring, appointed to the bench in 1942, handed down several landmark civil rights era decisions - about teacher pay, open primaries - before his dissent in the school desegregation case Briggs v. Elliott became the backbone of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education.
"We are reclaiming the legacy of Judge Waring," U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will be among the speakers, a list that also includes Gergel, Chief U.S. District Judge Terry L. Wooten, Chief Justice of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals William B. Traxler Jr., S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal, retired Circuit Judge Richard Fields, Senior U.S. District Judge P. Michael Duffy and Charleston Mayor Joe Riley.
Meeting Street will be closed south of Broad Street for the ceremony, so organizers are urging attendees to arrive early.