Christopher Mercer, civil-rights activist, dies at 88

Posted: November 20, 2012 at 3:02 p.m.
Updated: November 20, 2012 at 5:27 p.m.

Brad Choate, vice chancellor for university advancement, (left) and University of Arkansas Chancellor G. David Gearhart (right) talk Monday with Christopher C. Mercer, a recipient of one of the Silas Hunt Legacy Awards to be presented by the university this spring.

— Christopher C. Mercer, one of the first black students at the University of Arkansas' School of Law, died Tuesday, the school said in a statement. He was 88.

Mercer was a 1955 graduate of the school, passing the bar exam with the highest score in his group. He was one of a group of black students known as the "Six Pioneers" who integrated the school.

Mercer also served as an aide to Daisy Bates during the 1957 desegregation of Little Rock Central High School and drove the nine students involved to and from the school every day for the first semester.

Mercer practiced law for 58 years and was honored with the Silas Hunt Legacy Award in April. He was also the first black deputy state prosecutor in the South.

“Jane and I are saddened by the news of C.C. Mercer’s death,” said UA Chancellor G. David Gearhart. “We had known him for many, many years and always had the utmost respect for him. He was an outstanding leader and advocate, a great Arkansan and a much loved member of the Razorback community. He will long be remembered and celebrated as one of our most influential alumni. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to his family and salute C.C. for his life of service to others.”

Read more in tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.