Claudia Morcom has been actively engaged in civil rights and human rights work throughout her life, beginning with attending rallies for the Scottsboro frame-up victims in her childhood. She worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the National Lawyers Guild in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi.
Claudia Morcom was the first African American woman to work in an integrated law firm when she joined the firm of Goodman, Crockett, Eden, Robb, and Philo in the early 1960s. She was the Southern Regional Director of the National Lawyers Guild Committee for Legal Assistance from 1964-1965. In 1966, she became the Director of the Wayne County Neighborhood Legal Services Program for the indigent. She became a Wayne County Circuit Court Judge in 1983. She served as a delegate to the United Nations Council on Human Rights.
Judge Claudia House Morcom worked to establish "gender and racial equality in all facets of society through her notable accomplishments in the field of law".
November 5, 2013
Dear President Obama,
I am appealing to you as a colleague, a lawyer, a human rights activist and someone keenly conscious of the history of unjust imprisonment in our country. Specifically, I am writing this letter asking you to release the four remaining members of the so called "Cuban Five" whose only crime was to defend their country against unwarranted attacks. It is a simple act of justice that you can easily do.
The prosecution and imprisonment of the Scottsboro brothers and the outcry to free them was one of the factors that shaped my determination to become a lawyer at a very young age. It was in an era when women, particularly Black women, were seldom if ever enrolled in law schools.
As a young lawyer who organized legal defense for freedom riders in Mississippi, I saw first hand the ways in which hatred can taint our judicial system. In the years I served on the bench, I sought justice and heard all sides, especially in politically unpopular cases.
Since my retirement from the bench I have continued to advocate for human rights in our country representing the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers before the United Nations in Geneva and New York.
Because of my long term involvement with the National Lawyers Guild I have had the opportunity to interact with lawyers, law professors and students from all over the world. The U.S. has always been looked up to as a proponent for equal justice under the law and there have been many occasions where we have allowed long standing racist and sexist injustices to denigrate our aspirations for equality.
I have long been involved with the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Southern Poverty Law Center and many, many other organizations. It seems that the violation of human rights and justice unfortunately continues generation after generation.
As a lawyer, senator, professor and community organizer, you too have seen all of the inequities in our systems, at state, local and national levels.
You have a unique opportunity at this time to try to really demonstrate to young people of all races, ages and genders that the U.S. they have known in the past can't continue to relegate so many as second class citizens.
You have an opportunity to be an example and change the course of the future. One historic act that you can do to correct a massive injustice that is not only current but historic is to open a dialogue with Cuba without preconditions. Then as has been voted by the United Nations General Assembly for 22 consecutive years, end the embargo on Cuba. Not only for the legal justification, but for the humanitarian message it will send to the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean and justice loving people around the world. Critical to this historic rapprochement that only you can achieve is freeing the Cuban Five.
Hon. Claudia House Morcom, retired