Oliver Hill Jr., son of the Richmond civil rights legend Oliver Hill Sr., has lent his endorsement to mayoral candidate Robert Grey.
The younger Hill and his wife, Renee Hill, plan to host a meet and greet for Grey later this month.
“I like his mediation skills,” says Hill, a psychology professor at Virginia State University, of why he supports Grey. “He seems like the kind of person who could bring together the business community and the rest of the Richmond community.”
Hill lives in the hotly contested 3rd District, an area of the city that election pundits have identified as a possible battleground in the mayoral race, where no clear leader has yet emerged.
Grey grew up in the district and knew Hill as a child. “We hung out a little bit,” says Hill of that early friendship. “[Grey] was very close to my father. My father was one of his mentors as he was moving ahead in his law career.”
Hill says he believes that his father would be “pretty happy” about his decision to endorse Grey despite having been an early critic of the 2004 at-large mayor initiative, worrying that an at-large mayor could dilute the power of the city's black electorate.
The younger Hill says this was an area where he and his father agreed to disagree.
“I was kind of always in favor of it in that when you have direct elections it allows the people to be more involved than when you have appointed positions,” Hill says. Reminded that Grey was among the people who signed a letter calling for the abandonment of elected city school boards, Hill says Grey's revised position on the issue is an example of why he might make a good mayor.
“I think he's the kind of person who will listen to different positions and consider everything in a different way,” Hill says. “He doesn't have philosophical blinders.”