In Memoriam

Odell Hobbs (1937-2008)

Odell Hobbs, who had a long career as a professor of music at several black colleges and universities, died last month at the age of 71.

A native of Clarkton, North Carolina, Professor Hobbs earned a bachelor’s degree in music at Howard University in 1960. He later earned a doctorate in music from the University of Western Colorado.

Professor Hobbs began his teaching career at Langston University, the historically black college in Oklahoma. In 1966 he joined the faculty of Virginia Union University where he helped establish music as a major academic department. He also established the university’s marching band.

Hobbs also taught at Virginia Commonwealth University, St. Paul’s College, and Florida A&M University.

Zelma Cleota Hurst Henderson (1920-2008)

Zelma Henderson, the last surviving plaintiff from the original lawsuit against the public school system in Topeka, Kansas, which eventually came to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954 as Brown v. Board of Education, has died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 88.

Henderson worked as a cosmetologist in a beauty shop in her home in Topeka. Her children were bused to an all-black school on the other side of the city. In 1951 when the local chapter of the NAACP sought out parents to initiate a class-action lawsuit against the segregated school system, Henderson, along with 12 other parents including Oliver L. Brown, quickly agreed. Since Brown was the first plaintiff alphabetically, his name became synonymous with one of the most important Supreme Court cases in history.