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Polier, Shad

POLIER, SHAD (1906–1976), U.S. Jewish leader and civil rights advocate. Polier was born in Aiken, South Carolina. After graduating from the University of South Carolina with distinction, he continued his studies at the Harvard Law School, graduating in 1929, and got his master's degree in 1931. As a college student he was disturbed by cases of lynching which had taken place in his hometown, and devoted himself from then on to the cause of civil rights. He gained international fame in the famous Scottsboro case, in which eight black youths were sentenced to death on an allegation of rape of two white girls, preparing briefs on behalf of the defendants twice before the High Court. As a result he became active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), serving on the Executive Committee of its legal and educational defense fund. In 1948 he brought a personal suit against the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, alleging that its Stuyvesant Town Development in New York was guilty of discriminatory practice in not admitting blacks. The case resulted in fair housing laws in New York. He led the fight that resulted in the first state Fair Education Law that was directed to ending discrimination in the admission of blacks on the basis of race or religion.

In 1945 Polier founded and became chairman of the commission on Law and Social Action of the American Jewish Congress, which conducted legal battles against antisemitism, segregation, racism and other discriminatory laws. In this capacity he fought and won a six-year battle against antisemitic job practices by Aramco, the Arabian-American Oil Company.

Polier occupied prominent positions in the World Jewish Congress, as a member of its Executive and Governing Council and Chairman of its Budget and Finance Commission, and finally as Honorary Chairman of its National Governing Council. He was also a member of the board of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany and of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture. Polier's wife Justine, daughter of the late Rabbi Stephen *Wise, was for 35 years a judge of the New York Family Court, retiring in 1973.