February 1999

John Roy Harper II, Esq.

Attorney

John Roy Harper II, Esq.

John Roy Harper II, Esq. is a people’s advocate and social engineer. He has practiced law in Columbia for the past 28 years, focusing on civil rights and Constitutional law, and specializing in voting rights law. Attorney Harper has handled many criminal and civil matters, counseling and representing more than 4,000 individual clients and hundreds of thousands in class action suits. During most of this time he has engaged in complex federal litigation in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. The acquisition of knowledge was always a part of Harper’s environment. He was born in Greenwood, S.C., on September 2, 1939. His first 14 years, however, were spent on the campus of Mather Academy in Camden, S.C., where his parents, John Roy Harper and Mary Frances Smith Harper, were teachers. At age 14, while in 10th grade, he took the College Entrance Examination and scored high enough to be awarded a scholarship to attend Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn. He earned his AB degree in history, with honors, at the age of 19. At age 20, Harper attended Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Mass., for a year, and then worked in Boston for two years before serving in the U.S. Army in Europe for three years. In 1964 he was the first black junior executive hired by Shell Oil Company. He earned his J.D. degree from the University of South Carolina in 1970, the second African American to complete three years at the USC Law School since Reconstruction, and the first black member and officer of the Law Review. For three years, thereafter, he was an Earl Warren Fellow of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. From 1970-71, he worked with the Chambers, Stein, Ferguson and Lanning Law Firm in Charlotte, N.C., where he was involved with many precedent-setting civil rights litigations, including Swann et. al. v. Charlotte Mecklenberg Board of Education, which upheld school busing as a remedy for segregation. Since beginning his private law practice in 1971, Attorney Harper has been involved as a counsel or plaintiff in many voting rights cases, helping to achieve single member election districts, voting representation, and adherence to federal law and policies at all levels of government in South Carolina. These cases include his being lead counsel in NAACP v. Hampton County Election Commission, which led to a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision that set a precedent resulting in the adoption of new U.S. Justice Department regulations for submission of changes in voting for preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. In 1976 Harper was one of the first African Americans elected to Richland County Council. Since 1982 he has been a Commissioner-at-large of the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District and is the only county-wide African American elected official. Since 1968, Harper has been a leading propagator of African centric thought and action. He has helped found many organizations, such as the United Citizens Party of S.C. (1969), Black American Law Students Association (1969), South Carolina Black Lawyers Association, Columbia Lawyers Association, USC Association of African American Students and USC Black Alumni Caucus, from which he received its first Distinguished Alumnus Award. His many honors include induction into the South Carolina Black Hall of Fame and the NAACP William Robert Ming Advocacy Award. His biography appears in Who’s Who In American Law, Who’s Who In American Politics, Biographies of Twentieth Century Black Leaders, and Who’s Who Among African Americans. This eminent jurist firmly believes in the credo: “Knowledge Is The Key To Unity And Unity Is The Key To Liberation And Progress!”