The legacy of civil rights attorney Fred Finch Jr.
By FREDERICK HARRELL The Dallas Examiner Fred James Finch Jr. was a prominent civils rights attorney, leader, newspaper publisher and founder of The Dallas Examiner. A native of Dallas, Finch was born May [...] The post The legacy of civil rights attorney Fred Finch Jr. appeared first on Dallas Examiner.
By FREDERICK HARRELL
The Dallas Examiner
Fred James Finch Jr. was a prominent civils rights attorney, leader, newspaper publisher and founder of The Dallas Examiner. A native of Dallas, Finch was born May 3, 1921.
He graduated high school with honors and earned a basketball scholarship to attend Wiley College in 1938. During his time at Wiley, he joined Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. He graduated with honors and married Mildred Newton who he met at Wiley. In 1943, they they had their first and only child, Mollie Marie.
During that same year, Finch joined the United States Air Force where his outstanding entrance exam led him directly to train as an officer in Miami, Florida. He was the only Black officer to graduate amongst over 100 White soldiers. He was promoted to the rank of captain where he was then stationed at Tuskegee Army Air Field for Black soldiers only.
After his time in the service, he moved his family to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he enrolled and attended Harvard Law School. After graduating in 1954, Finch and his family returned to Dallas where he would begin the next chapter of his career.
After opening his law office, he found his place within the Civil Rights Movement. In 1962, Finch joined the Dallas branch of the NAACP as the chairman of the legal redress committee. During that time, he represented Ernest Hooper, Jerry Hanes and Leaston Chase III after the Arlington State College – now University of Texas at Arlington – denied them admission on the basis of them being Black. Finch wrote to the president of the university, Jack Woolf, to inform him that the three students were going to be represented by the NAACP. Soon after, the three men received admission into ASC by the fall of 1962.
Finch also had an important hand in eliminating “Negro Day” at the Texas State Fair. In 1925, Negro Day was created for the Black community to have a day to enjoy the fair’s amenities. Around the mid 1950s, the community had enough and demanded change. Finch led the legal action to remove it, granting Black people access to the fair for any day and any time – and any ride, except for two in which people could accidently make contact.
As a civil rights leader, attorney and military captain, Finch had a hand in almost every part of his community. He served on the Dallas City Planning Commission as well as the Speaker’s Advisory Committee of the Texas State Legislature.
He founded The Dallas Examiner newspaper in 1986. The main idea of the paper was to give the Black community a voice and provide hard news and features that affect the community. The Dallas Examiner would publish different issues every week and mail them to every home in predominantly Black neighborhoods.
The lives of Finch and his wife were cut short when they were murdered in a home robbery soon after the publication began printing. His legacy lives on through his daughter who is the current publisher.
Finch left an incredible mark on Black history and in the heart of the Dallas community. In 2019, the local NAACP named their annual brunch and justice award “Fred Finch Justice for All Award” in the late pioneer’s honor.
Source: The Dallas Examiner, Mollie Finch Belt, Texas Handbook Online
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