The man who helped rewrite the Virginia Constitution to guarantee Black voting rights, who is also the longest serving faculty member at the University of Virginia School of Law, has been awarded the highest honor from the Virginia Bar Association.
Professor A.E. Dick Howard received the Gerald L. Baliles Distinguished Service Award at the bar association’s 133rd annual meeting on Friday. The honor recognizes exceptional service and contribution to the bar and general public, according to a statement.
Howard was the executive director of the Commission on Constitutional Revision in Virginia, which was charged with replacing a 1902 state constitution that allowed for voter suppression methods that targeted Black citizens. The new constitution was ratified in 1971 and is still in use today.
“I am deeply touched and honored by this award,” Howard said at Friday’s event, according to a statement. He also noted that he held a special bond with former Virginia Gov. Gerald Baliles, for whom the award is named. “Jerry Baliles was my student, a good friend and a great public servant.”
Howard started teaching at UVa in 1964, making him the longest serving law school faculty member.
“It could not be more fitting than to honor Professor Dick Howard in this manner,” said UVa Rector Whittington W. Clement in a statement from UVa Law School.