Clarence M. Dunnaville

Clarence M. Dunnaville Jr. (1933–)

Roanoke
Attorney

Clarence M. Dunnaville Jr.'s interest in civil rights began at the age of nine, when the Ku Klux Klan burned a cross at his Roanoke home. While attending Morgan State College (later Morgan State University), he picketed segregated theaters and participated in sit-ins to desegregate lunch counters. In 1957 he earned a law degree from Saint John's University School of Law.

The first African-American attorney with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, Dunnaville was appointed by Robert F. Kennedy as an assistant U.S. attorney general for the Southern District of New York. While working as an attorney for Western Electric (part of AT&T), Dunnaville volunteered in 1967 with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to protect African Americans' voting rights in Mississippi, where a shotgun-wielding deputy sheriff chased him from the town of Marks. In New York, Dunnaville championed opportunities for minority entrepreneurs, serving as executive director of the Interracial Council for Business Opportunity and developing the black-owned skyscraper that once housed former President Bill Clinton's office in Harlem.

He returned to Virginia in 1990 and joined civil rights attorney Oliver W. Hill's Richmond law firm. Dunnaville later opened his own practice and continues to promote equal access to justice. He is dedicated to improving pro bono services for underserved Virginians and advocates restorative justice to break the cycle of the school-to-prison pipeline. Dunnaville has received numerous awards, including the Virginia State Bar Diversity Conference's first Achievement Award, which was renamed in his honor.

Watch Clarence Dunnaville's speech at the 2016 Strong Men and Women in Virginia History awards ceremony on February 3, 2016.