Courier Legacy Award shines spotlight on activist in shadows

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After more than a half century serving in the law field, Eric Springer is being recognized for his work fighting the civil rights battle from behind the scenes. This year as part of the New Pittsburgh Courier’s 50 Men of Excellence, Springer is being honored with the 2011 Legacy Award.

“Eric has been a pioneer. He has excelled in the practice of health law for many years,” said Wendell Freeland, a 2010 Legacy honoree. “Over the years he has been a leader in the civil rights community in Pittsburgh, though not known for being a guy on the ground. He deserves to be a person of importance. He deserves to be a legacy honoree of the Courier.”

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CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVISTS—Eric Springer with wife, Cecile, at an event for the New Pittsburgh Courier.

After working with Thurgood Marshall to prepare litigation related to the Brown vs. Board of Education victory, Springer moved to Pittsburgh in 1956. Following his move, Springer occupied a variety of positions, including serving as a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, director of compliance for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and establishing one of the first healthcare law firms in the country.

“I think Pittsburgh has always been aware of the work that my parents have done and most notably the work my mother has done, but my father has always been a quiet champion,” said daughter Christina Springer. “He just does the work that is important to do. He deserves this award because he doesn’t look for an award. He looks for work.”

Among his many accomplishments, Springer was the first African-American leader of the Allegheny Bar Association. He has also served as a member of the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations, the Pittsburgh branch of the NAACP and the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh.

“He’s always been a master educator and a history scholar. Throughout my childhood as we travelled abroad, he always used to instill history as a living legacy,” said Christina Springer. “Recently I moved back to Pittsburgh from London where I was an artist in residence for the tower in London. I got this position because of my father. He took me to the tower of London for the first time.”

The Legacy Award is reserved for individuals who have reached achievements above and beyond others, while also dedicating themselves to giving back to those less fortunate.

This year the 50 Men of Excellence will also recognize the late John Adams, Nate Smith, Armon Gilliam, Dave Epperson, and El Gray.

The awards reception will be held at the Fairmont Pittsburgh Oct. 27. The 2011 list of honorees includes a variety of men who each contribute to the fabric of the Pittsburgh community.

Honorees:
KENNY BLAKE
MEL BLOUNT
SCOTT BROWN
MARIO C. BROWNE
KIRK M. BRUCE
CARLOS T. CARTER
FRANK G. CHESTER
GREGORY J. COLLIER, SR.
JAMAAL L. CRAIG
CHARLES T. CURRY, Ph.D.
LEE DAVIS
FREDERICK DOUGLAS
BARON “B.B.” FLENORY
JOHN L. FORD
AARON GIBSON
DR. KEVIN GIBSON
REV. GLENN G. GRAYSON
EDWARD J. GREENE
L. C. GREENWOOD
DR. UHURU HOTEP
ROGER HUMPHRIES
KENNETH HUSTON
CHRISTOPHER IVEY
STEFFAN R. JOHNSON
THEODORE W. JOHNSON
DR. HERBERT JONES
JOSEPH J. KENNEDY, IV
ANDREW LEE
AL MERRITT
TY MILLER
KEN NESBIT
SAIHOU OMAR NJIE
PAULO NZAMBI
DR. GRADY ROBERTS, JR.
DR. ANTHONY G. ROBINS
ROBERT “ROCK” ROBINSON
HON. WILLIAM RUSSELL ­ROBINSON
HOWARD A. RUSSELL, JR.
REV. TIM SMITH
MARK CLAYTON SOUTHERS
ERIC W. SPRINGER, ESQ. — LEGACY
RICHARD W. TAYLOR, ESQ.
JOE WILLIAM TROTTER, JR.
DWAN B. WALKER
KEVIN WATSON
GEORGE A. WEBB, SR.
CHARLES WHITE
JOHN WILSON, III
RICHARD WITHERSPOON
JASIRI X

IN MEMORIAN:

JOHN ADAMS
NATE SMITH
ARMON GILLIAM
DAVE EPPERSON
EL GRAY

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