Remembering W. Haywood Burns (1940-1996)

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~tdowling/images3/wHaywoodBurns.jpgOn Carro, Carro & Mitchell’s letterhead is the name of the late W. Haywood Burns.*

In 1994-1996, our first years together as a law firm, we were incredibly fortunate to work closely with our friend Haywood Burns. Haywood was of-counsel to the firm and a constant presence in the office, despite his many other roles and obligations.

Haywood Burns was the former dean of the City University of New York School of Law and a long time civil rights advocate. His civil rights career began at the age of 15, when he helped integrate the segregated swimming pool in Peekskill, New York where he was born. Haywood was an Honors graduate of Harvard College and received his law degree from Yale. He was selected as Harvard Scholar in residence at Cambridge University in England in 1962. In 1964, while a Yale student, he participated in the Freedom Summer in Mississippi. He later became Assistant Counsel to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. as General Counsel to the Poor People’s Campaign. Haywood was the founder of the National Conference of Black Lawyers and was the first African-American dean of a New York law school. Under his guidance, CUNY School of Law was first awarded American Bar Association accreditation.

Haywood used to joke that he and Judge Carro served together in the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the Marines. In fact, in the early 1970s they were both named to a Department of Defense Civilian/Military Task Force on Racial Justice in the Military, which investigated discrimination in every branch of the armed forces. They remained friends forever after.

Haywood’s passion, good nature and wisdom were invaluable in our early years.

Haywood’s commitment to human rights led him to engage in struggles against racism and injustice in the United States and around the world. In 1996, while attending a conference on democracy and international law in Cape Town, South Africa, Haywood was killed when a truck ran a stoplight and struck the car in which he was riding.

Haywood’s death was a terrible loss for his wife Jennifer and his children. His passing was mourned in the legal and civil rights communities. He was so beloved by his students that it is not unusual, to this day, for one of us to be stopped in court by a CUNY Law graduate who wants to share a story of being guided by Haywood’s wise counsel, or of being inspired by his example.

We hope that our commitment to seeking justice for our clients, and to practice law with integrity, honors the memory of our friend Haywood Burns.

*Haywood’s name appears on our letterhead with the approval of his wife, Jennifer.