Hill, Herbert 1924-2004

views updated

HILL, Herbert 1924-2004


See index for CA sketch: Born January 24, 1924, in New York, NY; died August 15, 2004, in Madison, WI. Activist, educator, and author. Hill, who was white, was an outspoken former labor director of the NAACP and professor of Afro-American studies at the University of Wisconsin. Educated at New York University, where he earned a B.A. in 1945, and the New School for Social Research, where he received an M.A. in 1948, he was a researcher and organizer for the United Steelworkers of America for a year before joining the NAACP as a special assistant to the executive director from 1948 to 1952. He rose to national labor secretary of the NAACP in 1952 and national labor director in 1961. During his time at the NAACP, Hill tirelessly worked for job equality for all minorities, repeatedly attacking labor unions that refused to integrate or practice fair employment policies. Two of Hill's effective weapons were extensive research and the courts. Using detailed figures to prove his points, he filed numerous law suits against labor unions, as well as major corporations such as Shell Oil, General Electric, and Hollywood film studios. Another weapon was the picket line, and Hill organized many such protests. At one point, his efforts had become so vocal that some in the NAACP called for his ouster because they felt he caused more tension between workers and unions than was necessary. Hill survived such attacks with the support of NAACP president Roy Wilkins, however. Leaving the NAACP in 1977, he took his extensive knowledge of black literature and turned it into a successful academic career at the University of Wisconsin, where he became professor of industrial relations and Afro-American studies. Hill was the author of several books, including No Harvest for the Reaper: The Story of the Migratory Agricultural Worker in the United States (1960) and Black Labor and the American Legal System (1977), as well as editing or coediting such books as Anger and Beyond: The Negro Writer in the United States (1966) and Race in America: The Struggle for Equality (1993).



Los Angeles Times, August 24, 2004, p. B9.

New York Times, August 21, 2004, p. A12.

Washington Post, August 25, 2004, p. B6.