Miles College on Saturday renamed the Center for Economic and Social Justice in honor of retired federal Judge U.W. Clemon, a 1965 graduate of Miles College and Alabama’s First Black Federal Judge. Clemon was one of first 10 African American lawyers admitted to the Alabama Bar. A noted jurist, he served as a United States District Judge of the United States District for the Northern District of Alabama.
The new center will be named The Judge U.W. Clemon Center for Economic and Social Justice and housed in the newly renovated Williams Hall on Miles College’s campus.
The retired judge marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963 and helped desegregate the Birmingham Public Library. Clemon received his B.A. degree from Miles College in 1965, and his J.D. degree from Columbia Law School in 1968.
After his graduation from Miles College, Clemon was active in the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham. After law school, he returned to Birmingham and joined the law firm of Adams, Burg, & Baker. In 1974, Clemon was elected to represent the 15th District in the Alabama State Senate and was one of the first African Americans elected to the Alabama Senate since Reconstruction and chaired the Senate Rules Committee and the Judiciary Committee.
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed Clemon as Alabama’s first African American federal judge. He served on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama and rose to the position of Chief Judge in 1999, a position he held until 2006. Clemon retired from the bench in 2009, after serving for 29 years.