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The Gainsboro History Project

Clarence M. Dunnaville Jr.

Clarence M. Dunnaville Jr. (1933- ) was born in Roanoke, Virginia, and graduated from Lucy Addison High School. When he was nine years old, the Klu Klux Clan set fire to a cross in the front yard of his home. This event influenced his life as an advocate for civil rights and social justice.

During his youth and college years, he was involved in local civil rights activities, including organized picketing and sit-ins to desegregate businesses. In 1953, as a college student, he attended oral arguments of Brown v. Board of Education before the U.S. Supreme Court. The experience inspired him to study law.

Clarence Dunnaville became an accomplished lawyer and a dedicated champion of civil rights. He has received numerous awards for his service and continues to be active today in social justice organizations.

  • In 1957 Dunnaville graduated from Saint John’s University School of Law in New York.
  • After passing the New York Bar, he was the first Black lawyer employed by the IRS.
  • In 1961 he began work for the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Later, he was appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney General for the Southern District of New York by Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
  • In 1965 he became the first Black lawyer employed by AT&T. He worked in litigation, labor law, antitrust, commercial, and international law. While employed at AT&T, he co-founded the Council of Concerned Black Executives and the Association for Integration in Management, organizations which worked with businesses to improve corporate opportunities for African Americans in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • In 1967 Dunnaville volunteered to assist the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Mississippi. The group was working to protect voting rights.
  • In 1990 he moved to Richmond, Virginia, and joined the legal team of Hill, Tucker, and Marsh with Oliver White Hill.
  • In 1998 Dunnaville was a founding member of the Oliver White Hill Foundation (Richmond, Virginia) which continues to advocate for racial and social justice. He led the Foundation’s initiative to purchase and restore Oliver White Hill’s home in Gainsboro.
  • In 2012 the Diversity Conference of the Virginia State Bar established the Clarence A. Dunnaville Jr. Achievement Award in his honor. He was the first recipient of the Diversity Award for his unceasing devotion to improving diversity and equality in the Commonwealth. Each year, the conference honors fellow members for fostering and facilitating diversity and inclusion in the Virginia Bar.
  • In 2015 the Richmond Bar Association presented him with the Hill-Tucker Public Service Award for his lifetime achievement in public service and distinguished service to society beyond the practice of law.

See Also


Library of Virginia. (n.d) Clarence M. Dunnaville Jr. – Virginia changemakers. Changemakers. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from

Virginia State Bar. (n.d.) Virginia State Bar | Diversity conference.  Retrieved March 2, 2022, from

Jones, J. (2020, Oct. 3). Clarence M. Dunnaville Jr.: Prominent civil rights attorney. BlackThen: Discovering our history.

Personality: Clarence M. Dunnaville Jr. (2015, Feb. 26). Richmond Free Press.