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Remembering Oliver Hill Jr.

Posted at 1:05 PM, Jul 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-09 19:03:35-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Dr. Oliver Hill Jr., a psychology professor and son of legendary civil rights attorney Oliver Hill, died this week in Richmond.

Hill was 70. A cause of death was not disclosed.

Hill made a name for himself and had a front row seat to many of Virginia’s and the nation’s most historic moments.

He was born in Richmond in 1949, the only child of Oliver and Bernie Hill.

For the first 12 years of his life, the city was almost completely segregated.

His father would become one of the most famous civil rights attorneys in history, battling Jim Crow and fighting to integrate schools. Hill's father represented Black students against Prince Edward County schools in one of the country's first "separate but equal" cases.

The case was decided under the historic Brown v. the Board of Education case.

Hill Jr. was part of a historic moment when his 7th grade class became the first to desegregate Richmond Public Schools.

After high school, Hill went to Washington DC where he attended Howard University.

Although he got his degree in history, Hill became fascinated with the science of the human mind. He would go on to earn a masters and a doctorate in psychology from the University of Michigan.

In 1981, Hill returned home and got a job at Virginia State University. That is where he would spend the next few decades working as both a professor and chair of the psychology department.

"Dr. Hill was a valued member of our Virginia State University family for more than three decades. He was a great man and a nationally renowned professor, researcher, and scientist," a statement released Thursday by Virginia State University read. "Dr. Hill dedicated a great deal of his research and his passion to changing the lives of the African American community by creating a pathway to educational opportunities through his work in school reform and student testing."

Like his father before him, Hill was a respected voice in the community.

When multiple scandals rocked the state capitol in 2019, he was one of the first people CBS 6 turned to for perspective.

CBS 6 last spoke with Hill in June about the protests that have taken place in Richmond and across the country.

While acknowledging the painful past that he and many other Black Americans had endured, Hill offered a message of hope for the future.

"I think that's the most exciting thing to me: this opportunity of almost re-imagining America, and coming up with the country we always thought we had but we didn't," said Hill.