The news being reported by The State today is a terrible shock:
A prominent Columbia attorney who fought for equity in the state’s public education system and left his mark on the community through extensive service to organizations championing the arts, education and South Carolina’s disadvantaged, has died.
Stephen “Steve” Morrison, 64, a partner with Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough in Columbia, became ill and passed away unexpectedly sometime between Saturday night and early Sunday morning, said Jim Lehman, the firm’s managing partner.
Morrison was in New York attending a board meeting when he passed away….
This is a great loss for this community, and for South Carolina.
Steve may be best remembered for leading the legal team that fought in court for two decades to try to get the state to bring poor, rural schools up to par, so that the quality of education a child received wouldn’t be so dependent on the accident of where he or she happened to be born.
I never saw him in court during that lengthy case, but I heard him give presentations on the critical issues involved in speeches to community groups. He was always deeply impressive — not only for the intellectual force of his arguments, but for the passion and commitment that he exuded.
He exhibited these qualities in everything he did. And he did a lot.
By the way, here’s a footnote I wrote in 2010 about my own relationship with Steve:
Finally, a disclaimer — aside from the fact that Steve Morrison and I served together on the Urban League board, he has quite recently served as my attorney. Not a big deal, but I thought you should know. Aside from that, having known him for years, I’ve heard him give quite a few quietly compelling speeches, and asked him why he didn’t run for office. He always shrugged it off — until now.
I wrote that in the context of covering his candidacy for mayor. But back to Steve…
The bottom line is, the cause of justice for all in South Carolina has been set back.