A year after his death, a trailblazing attorney in Norfolk is still making his mark on this world. Here at Arts for Learning, we’re tremendously grateful to receive funds during #BlackHistoryMonth from the estate of William T. Mason, Jr., who passed away in February 2023 at the age of 96.
“We’re touched and inspired by Mr. Mason’s generous bequest to Arts for Learning Virginia,” said Chris Everly, CEO. “Through this gift, Mr. Mason extends his legacy. This bequest will provide opportunities for a new generation of children to access and experience the transformative power of the arts.”
Mr. Mason made the gift in honor of his parents, the late William T. Mason, Sr., a prominent member of the community who served as administrator of Norfolk Community Hospital, and the late Vivian Carter Mason, a civic leader who became the first African American woman to be appointed to the Norfolk School Board.
Friends and colleagues knew W.T. Mason, Jr. as “Sonny.” President John F. Kennedy appointed him as the first African American Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, where he served from 1963 to 1972 and acted as a tireless crusader on school desegregation issues. Mr. Mason later established the first large interracial law firm in Norfolk: Mason, Robinson, Eichler and Zaleskie.
Among his contributions to the community, Mr. Mason served on Norfolk State University’s first Board of Visitors, the Norfolk United Way, the Urban League of Hampton Roads, the Norfolk Planning Council, the Board of Visitors for Colby College, the Crispus Attucks Cultural Center, and many professional organizations as a member of the Virginia State Bar.
In 2019, the City of Norfolk recognized Mr. Mason as an unsung hero in the civil rights movement for his promotion of democratic values and his commitment to removing barriers to fair elections such as the poll tax. In February 2023, shortly after his death, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a resolution in “respect for his memory and admiration for his personal and professional achievements and many years of service in dedication to the Norfolk community, the Commonwealth, and the United States.” Read the full resolution here: https://legiscan.com/VA/text/HR347/id/2777219/Virginia-2023-HR347-Enrolled.html
We thank all those individuals who choose to remember Arts for Learning in their estate plans. If you’d like to speak to someone about making a gift, please contact Chris Everly at CEO@Arts4LearningVA.org.