Letter from Homer A. Holt to David F. Cavers

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Letter from Homer A. Holt to David F. Cavers


This document is a letter from Homer A. Holt to David F. Cavers, the Associate Dean and Professor of Law of Harvard Law School and Chairman of Special Committee for the Association of American Law Schools, that was sent on September 8, 1955. Holt wrote to Cavers about an "incompleted memorandum which [Holt] had used in the conference [for the Association of American Law Schools]." The memorandum, which was included in this letter, stated that Washington and Lee University was a private institution and its admissions policy had been "‘The University exercises the right to make a choice among the candidates applying for entrance according to its evaluation of an individual’s promise of success at this particular institution, and is without obligation to give specific reasons for its failure to approve an application.’" The conference was about "the narrow matter" of admission to black students, but Holt wrote about the "broader principle of the responsibility of the Washington and Lee authorities for establishing policies of admission and their unwillingness to surrender or delegate that responsibility to any other organization." If the Association’s anti-discrimination admissions policy was made mandatory, Holt wrote that Washington and Lee would withdraw from the Association because they "could not maintain such membership at the cost of surrendering [their] liberty and independence." In the memorandum, Holt wrote that, to his knowledge, a black person had never applied to Washington and Lee’s law school, but "if a bona fide application for admission were made by a member of the Negro race possessing the required qualifications…my disposition would be to fully, carefully, and fairly consider the application." Holt also stated that he was not biased or prejudiced and used his past experience helping black people be admitted to graduate schools and approving the first black applicant to the West Virginia Bar Association as evidence. Holt also stated that the Association would be acting tyrannically if they made this policy mandatory. This memorandum was sent to George M. Modlin, President of the University of Richmond, by a named sender whose signature is unreadable; the sender believed that Modlin would be "greatly interested and impressed" by the memorandum.



Letter from Homer A. Holt to David F. Cavers, 8 September 1955, RG 6.2.4 box 22 folder 16, University Archives, Virginia Baptist Historical Society.









Richmond (Va.)

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Holt, Homer A., “Letter from Homer A. Holt to David F. Cavers,” University of Richmond Race & Racism Project, accessed June 22, 2024, https://memory.richmond.edu/items/show/1943.