2015 Recipient

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Where presented : 
NLADA Annual Conference
Recipient(s) name: 
Charlie F. Morris
Recipient title: 
Board Member
Recipient organization: 
Memphis Area Legal Services
Recipient organization city: 
Recipient organization state: 
Reason for selection of recipient(s): 

Mr. Charlie Morris is a product of the civil rights and equal justice movement in this country. He easily identified with the struggle to achieve equal justice for all people no matter their station in life. He not only knew Mary Ellen Hamilton but worked tirelessly beside her to ensure that the voices of clients were heard. Now in his mid-90s, Mr. Morris’s life commitment to the “Movement” did not occur in some naïve way. He witnessed segregation, racial hatred, and violence in very tangible ways in the South. One experience that affected him at the young age of 18, and continues to fuel his passion for justice even today, was the horror of his brother being shot, castrated, staked in a river, and dying at the hands of a white mob. He was bitter at first, but he turned this tragedy into a commitment to change this country.

Witnessing such a horrific act catapulted him into a life’s commitment to fight for racial, economic, and political justice in this country. Long before he joined Memphis Area Legal Services’ board, Mr. Morris became a voice for the “voiceless” in North Memphis where he and his late wife, Alma Morris, were the go-to persons in their community to address economic and political issues. There, they formed the Klondyke Neighborhood Association that served as a platform for community activism and to attain political clout that gained the attention of politicians and government leaders alike. They held their representatives accountable, never afraid to question them publically if they felt the interests of their largely minority community were not considered. In recognition of their community service, the City of Memphis presented them the Humanitarian Award and named a neighborhood swimming facility, Charles Morris Pool, in his honor.

Within the equal justice community, he was an active member of the National Clients Council serving on its national board. He was president of the Region VI Clients Council for a number of years. In that role, he organized meetings throughout the region from Tennessee to Mississippi and in Louisiana and Kentucky.