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Henry W. “Hank” McGee, Jr. Biography: Law Professor And Legal Activist

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Henry W. “Hank” McGee, Jr. was born on December 31, 1932, in Chicago, Illinois, to Henry W. McGee, Sr., from Hillsboro, Texas, the first African American Postmaster appointed by U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, and Attye Belle Truesdale McGee, from Hot Springs, Arkansas. Sylvia E. McGee Morrison and Marguerite McGee Porterfield were McGee’s sisters. Henry W. McGee, III (1953), Peer Byron K. McGee (1957), Kevin T. McGee (1958), Gregory R. McGee (1960), and Erik C. McGee (1961) are his five sons, all born in Chicago (1967).

McGee graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism with a B.A. in 1954. He began practicing law in 1957, after receiving his Juris Doctorate from Chicago’s DePaul University College of Law, where he was the Law Review Editor in Chief. He worked as a county prosecutor, private firm litigator, and regional director of the United States Office of Economic Opportunity Legal Services Program after graduation.

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Heny McGee and Derrick Bell, at SU Law School (Henry McGee)

 

During Mississippi’s Freedom Summer of 1965, McGee aided civil rights workers by acting as a lawyer for Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) members arrested for assisting with African American voter registration.

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McGee received his Master of Laws (LL.M.) from Columbia University Law School in 1969. He was one of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law’s first two Black hires in 1969, where he taught Criminal Law and Housing Law. In 1970 and 1974-1976, he was the director of the UCLA Center for Afro-American Studies.

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He received Fulbright teaching and research awards in 1982 and 2002 for work in Madrid, Granada, and Barcelona, Spain. McGee retired from UCLA as a professor emeritus in 1994, and later that year became the first person of color to join the ranks of tenured faculty at Seattle University School of Law.

Throughout his academic career, McGee received invitations to visit Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Europe, and Africa. He was a visiting professor at Fordham University and the University of Washington in the United States. In 1973, he was a Visiting Fellow at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. His prolific scholarship includes a co-authored Housing case book and more than 25 articles in juried law reviews in both Spanish and English. A demographic analysis titled Seattle’s Central District, 1990-2006: Integration or Displacement” is one of his most widely cited articles.

McGee married Victoria Kill, an English professor at Seattle University, in 1996. At the age of 82, he retired from the Seattle University School of Law and was honored by the Metropolitan King County Council for “a career and life dedicated to racial and economic justice.”

 

MLK Day March 2014 (Henry McGee)

 

In 1990, McGee received the Arthur Sutherland Public Service Award from the University of California, Los Angeles. He received the AALS Clyde Ferguson Award in 2011.

McGee is a skilled violinist who has performed in community orchestras. He is a member of the fraternities Sigma Pi Phi and Alpha Phi Alpha, a board member of Futurewise Seattle, and a Fellow of the Mexican Academy of Private International and Comparative Law. He also serves on the board of the Seattle Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), The Breakfast Group, and the Museum Development Board of the Seattle Art Museum.

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