Clarence M. Dunnaville Jr.’s is a renowned civil rights activist who has spent most of his life fighting for justice. At the age of nine, Dunnaville had the unpleasant experience of watching the Ku Klux Klan burn a cross at his Roanoke, Virginia home.
After completing his primary education, he attended Morgan State College, 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.
Dunnaville became the first African-American attorney with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, he 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.
Years later, Dunnaville returned to Virginia in 1990 and joined civil rights attorney Oliver W. Hill’s Richmond law firm. He later opened his own practice. He has worked hard to improve the 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.