In Memoriam: Herman Wadsworth Hemingway, 1932-2020

Herman Hemingway, a lawyer, educator, civil rights activist, and the first Black graduate of Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, died on December 14 in Boston. He was 88 years old.

Hemingway was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and grew up in Roxbury. Hemingway participated in his first civil rights protest at the age of 12. He attended Roxbury Memorial High School for Boys. Hemingway had scholarship offers from Harvard, Boston College, and one-year-old Brandeis University. He chose Brandeis because he thought it was “innovative and exciting.”  Hemingway majored in Near Eastern and Judaic studies at Brandeis and later earned a law degree from Suffolk University in Boston.

Hemingway began his career as a public defender. He went on to open his own law practice, focusing on civil rights and served under Boston Mayor Kevin White in the 1960s as an acting administrator of the Boston Housing Authority.

Hemingway became a community research fellow at MIT during the early 1970s where he had an opportunity to conduct research about issues relating to social justice and inequality in the community. In the 1970s he relocated with his family to Nigeria, where he was a university lecturer on the American legal system. He returned to the U.S. to become chair of Boston State College’s department of public service. Later he became a senior fellow at the McCormack Institute of the University of Massachusetts Boston, a professor and chair of criminal justice at UMass-Boston, and adjunct professor law at Boston College and Boston University law schools. He was appointed professor emeritus at UMass-Boston after 23 years of teaching.


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