The year 2022 marks the 60th anniversary of the year – 1962 – in which Isaac “Ike” C. Hunt, Jr. became the second African American to graduate from the University of Virginia School of Law. He also began his first job at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that year. After 5 years at the Commission he left and for the next three decades worked in various posts in government, private practice, and academia, including Dean of two law schools. He returned to the SEC as Commissioner in 1996 and served in that role until August 2002.
In this exhibit, we present a retrospective of Hunt’s admirable career through the lens of quotes from his colleagues and from himself. The excerpts are primarily from items in the collection of the Virtual Museum, supplemented with artifacts from two additional public sources: the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the University of Virginia School of Law. All items may be fully accessed through the links provided.
“Isaac C. Hunt, Jr. was nominated to the Securities and Exchange Commission by President Bill Clinton in August 1995 and confirmed by the Senate on January 26, 1996. He was sworn in as a Commissioner on February 29, 1996.”
“Prior to being nominated to the Commission, Mr. Hunt was Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Akron School of Law, a position he held from 1987 to 1995. He taught securities law for seven of the 9 eight years he served as Dean. Previously, he was Dean of the Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C. where he also taught securities law. In addition, Mr. Hunt served during the Carter and Reagan Administrations at the Department of the Army in the Office of the General Counsel as Principal Deputy General Counsel and as Acting General Counsel. As an associate at the law firm of Jones, Day, Reavis and Pogue, Mr. Hunt practiced in the fields of corporate and securities law, government procurement litigation, administrative law, and international trade. In addition, Mr. Hunt commenced his career at the SEC as a staff attorney from 1962 to 1967.”
“Mr. Hunt was born on August 1, 1937 in Danville, Virginia. He earned his B.A. from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee in 1957 and his LL.B. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1962.”
“Most of all, Commissioner Hunt has been the scholarly voice at the Commission table. His legal counsel and depth of understanding of the securities laws has broadened the understanding of his colleagues on the Commission. He holds the staff to his level of rigor and exactitude, and investors and our markets have reaped the benefits.”
“Hunt’s work at the SEC was noted for helping to better define relationships between the commission and international securities regulators…”
"Appointed to the Commission in 1996 at the dawn of the digital age and a truly transformative era of our capital markets, Ike was a powerful voice for making sure our mission of protecting investors, fostering fair and efficient markets, and facilitating capital formation remained timeless in the face of dramatic change.”
“I am a native of Danville, Virginia, which is a town or city right on the border of North Carolina. My mother taught her whole forty-five years right across the border in North Carolina. We had a farm in North Carolina. I think there was nothing extraordinary about my life except I never wanted for anything, and then, two, I went to college a month after I turned fifteen.”
“I was the second black graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law.”
“…as I was thinking about this interview, the SEC was, in those days, filled with a lot of very bright Jewish lawyers who could not get jobs in predominantly WASP law firms. So the SEC then was just not a discriminatory place. Now, when I've read about younger black lawyers who have had horrible times in other jobs in the federal government, that just was not my experience. I mean, I had wonderful friends at the SEC, still have friends from the SEC. And I think it was because so many of them just thought they could not get jobs in WASP law firms, to use a horrible word.”
“IH: I was the only black lawyer when I was there.
WT: You were the only one. Did that impact your experience there?
IH: There was a woman who was the only black female professional, who I thought was brilliant. She didn't go to law school, but she was a financial analyst. She and I were close friends when I was the only black lawyer. But I guess I just—at the SEC at that time, I didn't feel oppressed at all. I remember going to the March on Washington and thinking that there were all these people here who think they've been oppressed—they have been oppressed—and I'm a lawyer at the SEC and I don't feel oppressed at all. I mean, I just felt comfortable being there.”
“But [President] Lyndon was stronger and deeper on race relations than JFK or RFK ever were, and I’ve always believed that. I’m a Southerner. Lyndon was a revised Southerner who had in his bones that racial discrimination was just not right.”
“The other thing, of course, was the staff got incredibly more diverse, male, female, black, white, Hispanic, during the time when I was there as a staff member and the time when I was there as a [commissioner]—I had more, I think, staff members on my immediate staff who were women than male. That would have been unheard of when I was there as a staff member. I mean, it just wouldn’t have happened. There weren’t enough females there to have that many females on your individual staff level. So that was a big change.”
“Early in his career, Hunt wrote two influential reports: "The Aftermath of Disorder," which was included as a portion of the larger report issued in 1968 by the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, also known as the Kerner Commission, examining race riots in 1967; and "Minority Recruiting in the New York City Police Department," issued in 1971 by the RAND Corp.”
“Well, after the Kerner Commission, I went to New York City to do some work with the Lindsay administration through a company founded on the West Coast with the Air Force. We did work in a lot of areas in the city government, and I was assigned to do work on increasing minority recruitment in the New York City Police Department. So I saw a lot of [police] files that other civilians had not seen… And it drove the policemen crazy. “Who is this to sit in here looking at our files when no other person, no other civilian, has ever been able to see these files?”
And then Jay Kriegel and Peter Goldmark just said, “He will see those files. If he thinks he needs to see those files, he will see those files,” and so they gave me the files. The reason I thought it was transforming was because I don’t think I would have, one, become a law school professor without that experience on the Kerner Commission, and then the work in New York. And if I hadn’t become a law school professor, I would never have become an SEC commissioner.”
“…But perhaps the highlight of the kick-off week was the concluding event, a National Town Meeting on Saving and Investing that was broadcast live by satellite from Washington, D.C. to more than 30 locations across the country.
…Many of the states that aired the Washington, D.C. telecast also provided live panels with additional experts to answer questions, including Commissioners Isaac Hunt and Laura Unger. Hunt participated in Miami, while Unger spoke at the Boston event.”
“…the message that I want to send to you today is that CEOs, legal counsel and auditors must focus attention and resources on the critical area of internal controls. In order to assure sound financial reporting and, consequently, a level playing field for all investors, good internal accounting controls are critical. These should form the bedrock on which all financial reporting is based.”
“A former appointee to the Securities and Exchange Commission and dean of two law schools, Isaac C. Hunt Jr., a 1962 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, died Sunday, in Washington, D.C. He was 80.
“Known to his friends and family as “Ike,” Hunt was UVA Law’s second black graduate. He went on to become a trailblazer in both public and private practice, as well.
“President Bill Clinton nominated Hunt as a commissioner of the SEC in 1995. The Senate confirmed him the following January, and he was sworn in on Feb. 29, 1996. He was nominated again by President George W. Bush as a recess appointee and served until August 2002.
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