WILLIAM RICHARD MORRIS
For a third of a century William R. Morris has engaged in the practice of law in Minneapolis and he is conceded to be one of the most talented and one of the most highly esteemed members of the bar of this city. A native of Fleming county, Kentucky, he was born February 22, 1859. His father, Hezekiah Morris, was born in slavery down south, and was of three-fourths Negro blood. His industry enabled him to purchase his freedom and he learned and followed the trade of mattress making. He married Miss Elizabeth Hopkins, who was of half Negro parentage, and his demise occurred in 1861, when the subject of this review was but two years of age. Mrs. Morris remained in the Blue Grass state until the termination of the Civil war and then came to the north, locating at New Richmond,Ohio. There, William R. Morris attended the public schools and also a private school, afterward becoming a pupil in a Catholic school at Chicago, Illinois. Realizing the value of a good education, he entered Fisk University at Nashville, Tennessee, in 1876. choosing the classical course, and in 1884 he was graduated from that institution with high honors. He attended the university for eight years and was noted for his ability as a debater and orator, excelling in all of his studies. After his graduation Mr. Morris accepted a position as instructor of mathematics, languages and sciences at his Alma Mater and was the only Afro-American member of the faculty. He continued to act in that capacity for five years and during that time devoted his leisure hours to the study of law. In 1887 he completed his course and two years later he resigned his position at Fisk, since which time he has devoted his attention to his profession. He was admitted to the bar by the supreme court of Illinois and then came to Minneapolis, where he has since engaged in practice, building up a large and representative clientele. He has successfully handled many important cases, one of the most notable being his defense of Thomas Lyons in the Harris murder trial, which attracted widespread attention. He displays keen discernment in the solution of intricate problems of the law and few lawyers have made a more lasting impression upon the bar of the city, both for legal ability of a high order and for an individuality or personal character which impresses itself upon the community. Mr. Morris has always been keenly interested in all movements for the advancment of his race and to this end has contributed liberally of his time and energy. In 1885 he represented the Afro-Americans of the south at the meeting of the American Missionary Association at Madison, Wisconsin, delivering an address on “The Negro at Present.” The following year he held institutes in Tennessee for the Afro-American teachers of the state, under the auspices of the superintendent of education, and in 1891 he was elected president of the Minnesota State League of Afro-Americans. He is well informed concerning the vital questions of government and for some time has been the political leader of the Negroes of the state republican party. On the 14th of July, 1896, Mr. Morris was united in marriage to Miss Anna M. La Force and they have become the parents of a son and a daughter: Richard Edward, who was born April 2, 1900; and Elizabeth Zellouise, born February 7, 1915. Mr. Morris has gained an enviable reputation in a most exacting profession and in every relation of life he measures up to the full stature of upright, honorable manhood. Mr. Morris is a member of the Plymouth Congregational church of Minneapolis, and in the colored Masonic order he has gained high standing, the honorary thirty-third degree having been conferred upon him in recognition of his services to the order. He has held important offices in that body, being a past grand master and past grand secretary, and he is also a Past Most Venerable Patriarch of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows. He is likewise prominently identified with the Knights of Pythias, of which he is a past grand chancellor and deputy supreme chancellor, and was also brigadier general for Minnesota. He was also a member of the Charter Commission. There are so many talented brothers and sisters who contributed so much for the sake of their people that we must dig deeper and bring their names to the ears of the Future! There is no aspect of our lives that the Grand United Order of Oddfellows has not touched…..
In the bond of Friendship Love and Truth I leave as I came
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