From his teen years to the autumn of his days, Judge Robert L. Carter never compromised his integrity or his demand for full equal rights. Perhaps the benchmark of his illustrious career occurred in the historic Brown v. Board of Education case, in which he played a prominent, if not celebrated, role, but there is so much more to commend his remarkable stay with us that ended Tuesday morning in a hospital in Manhattan. He was 94.

According to his son, John W. Carter, a New York Supreme Court justice in the Bronx, his father’s death resulted from complications of a stroke.

To the end of his brilliant life, Carter was a relentless advocate for justice, equality and fair play. His unbending stance for his rights as a citizen emerged very early, when at 16 he challenged racial discrimination at the high school he attended in East Orange, N.J. He took strong exception to the prohibition against Blacks, who were only allowed to use the swimming pool on Fridays, and even then after all classes were dismissed.

Carter boldly defied this restriction, entering the pool with the white students despite the risk of being expelled from school. This was, he said, just the first of many confrontations with the nation’s racism, and a harbinger of his courage.

The spotlight that favored Thurgood Marshall was often not expansive enough to include the contributions of Carter, who was seemingly without complaint as he labored so diligently and successfully in the shadows. It was his genius that figured so prominently in the victorious Brown v. Board of Education decision by the Supreme Court in 1954.

When Carter utilized the findings of the “Doll Test,” developed by psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark, it was a daring and controversial strategy that proved pivotal in overturning the age-old Plessy v. Ferguson law. It ended the notion of “separate but equal”-which was never in any way equal, Carter contended.

“Some of the lawyers,” Kenneth Clark said in a later interview, referring to Carter’s colleagues, “felt the case should not be ‘contaminated’ by psychological evidence. Other lawyers, particularly Robert Carter, argued that you couldn’t overthrow [Plessy v. Ferguson] by just sticking to the law…you had to show that being segregated actually damaged children.”

According to Clark, Carter felt that the test results were evidence of the damaging effect of segregation on children. Almost without exception, the Black children in the test selected white dolls as exemplifying goodness and Black dolls as bad.

In the end, Marshall agreed with Carter and they leaned on this evidence as a critical part of their argument before the Supreme Court.

Born March 11 or 17, 1917, in Caryville, Fla., Carter attended Lincoln University, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1937. He received his law degree from Howard University Law School three years later. In 1941, Columbia Law School presented him with his master’s degree in law; he wrote his thesis on the First Amendment, research that would serve him well in later cases.

Even before the United States entered World War II, Carter joined the Army. To a great degree, this further militarized him in his fight against racism and discrimination.

Carter was stationed in Georgia when he encountered a white officer who told him that he “did not believe in educating niggers.” Carter wrote about the encounter in his book, “A Matter of Law: A Memoir of Struggle in the Cause of Equal Rights” (2004).

In other words, Carter continued, the officer was “not going to tolerate our putting on airs or acting uppity.”

But those admonitions and warnings did not stop Carter from completing and excelling in Officer Candidate School and becoming a second lieutenant. With those bars on his shoulder, he audaciously integrated the officers’ club at the base in Baton Rouge, much to the white officers’ chagrin. Breaking the Jim Crow rules was Carter’s approach even more so after mustering out of the service in 1944.

Things got underway for him in the legal arena almost immediately upon taking a job at the Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDEF), at the time the legal arm of the NAACP, though it later became an independent entity.

At LDEF, Carter began his association with Marshall. By 1948, he became his chief deputy. One of the important cases they worked on was Sweatt v. Painter (1950), in which the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, deciding that the University of Texas Law School could not deny the application of a Black student.

In the succeeding years, Carter was as successful as he was active in arguing cases on housing discrimination, the dismantling of all-white political primaries in several Southern states and tackling de facto school segregation in the North.

In 1961 came a dramatic split between Carter and Marshall over the appointment of Jack Greenberg, who had collaborated with Carter on many cases, as the person to succeed him as the director of the LDEF. Carter resigned and became the general counsel for the NAACP, which was no longer affiliated with The LDEF.

After President Richard Nixon nominated him to the federal bench for the Southern District of New York in 1972-he was strongly recommended by Sen. Jacob Javits-Carter began his long and distinguished career as a jurist.

He was the judge in the case that brought a settlement between disgruntled NBA players in their class-action antitrust lawsuit.

A few years later, in 1979, he found bias against Black and Hispanic applicants for police jobs in New York City. This decision brought about major changes in the NYPD’s hiring policies and caused an increase in minority officers.

“Judge Robert L. Carter was a courageous, bold, audacious advocate for justice in the cause not only to render human and civil rights for Black people who had been legally denied such rights in America but to uplift the entire nation,” said attorney Nadine C. Johnson, commissioner of the New York State Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission on Minorities. “With forthrightness and eloquence, he had divine determination in his journey and his quest to achieve these basic rights of justice and equality for all.

“Judge Carter had such strong shoulders to hold all of us up-from Thurgood Marshall to the present,” Johnson continued, “and was a true, steadfast advocate for justice. He lived a great, long life truly worthy of celebration and he was active to the end with so much apparent energy.”

Carter’s wife, Gloria, whom he married in 1946, died in 1971. Other than his son John, he is survived by another son, David; a sister, Alma Carter Lawson; and a grandson.

There was no information about funeral or memorial services available at press time.