James Hall Jr.: A Powerful Advocate for Civil Rights and Youth Development Passes Away at 69

MILWAUKEE, WI – Civil rights attorney James Hall Jr., known for his tireless advocacy and dedication to youth development, has passed away at the age of 69 after battling cancer. Throughout his career, Hall made significant contributions to the improvement of marginalized communities in Milwaukee, both through his legal work and his voluntary efforts on various city boards and committees. His impact was widely recognized and respected, with former NAACP Milwaukee Branch President Fred Royal describing him as a quiet yet powerful force.

In recognition of his commitment to helping impoverished people, Hall was honored with the “Don Sykes Legacy Award” by the Social Development Foundation in September. The award highlighted his extensive achievements and unwavering dedication to civil rights in Milwaukee and southeastern Wisconsin.

During his acceptance speech, Hall expressed his gratitude to the Social Development Commission, stating that their support provided him with a tremendous opportunity to focus on civil rights matters. He emphasized the importance of each individual’s role as an organizer, change-maker, and visionary in transforming their community, county, and state.

Hall’s contributions extended beyond the courtroom. As a co-founder of 100 Black Men of Milwaukee, he played a vital role in the organization’s mission to foster the intellectual development of young people. The idea for 100 Black Men of Milwaukee originated from a conversation Hall had over lunch with several women who expressed the need for male mentors to counter the negative influences many children faced. This led him to gather a group of men dedicated to providing guidance and positive role models for the youth in the community.

Hall’s impact reached far beyond Milwaukee. He participated in numerous high-profile court cases, serving as co-counsel in the landmark class-action redlining suit brought against American Family Insurance by the Milwaukee NAACP in the 1990s, resulting in a $16 million settlement. He also represented Black firefighters in a discrimination lawsuit against the Milwaukee Fire Department and challenged the Wisconsin Voucher Program, among other notable cases.

Known for his intelligence, generosity, and care for those in need, Hall was revered by his colleagues and loved ones. Attorney Celia Jackson, a longtime friend, highlighted his dedication to improving Milwaukee’s statistics on discrimination and segregation. Jackson described Hall as a problem solver who never shied away from taking action when faced with challenges.

Hall’s impact extended beyond his legal career. His love for travel led him to meet his wife, Pauline, on a vacation trip to London. Their enduring relationship was characterized by friendship, kindness, and mutual respect. Pauline recalled Hall’s belief in the value of all living beings, even advocating for the survival of groundhogs when others sought to eliminate them.

James Hall Jr.’s legacy as a civil rights attorney, youth advocate, and compassionate individual will be remembered fondly throughout Milwaukee and beyond. A memorial service will be held on January 8 at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Milwaukee, with a funeral service scheduled for January 13 at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Smithfield, Virginia. His contributions and the impact he made on the lives of countless individuals will continue to inspire future generations.