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Tag: Civil Rights Era

Obit: Former Attny Gen Nicholas Katzenbach Championed Civil Rights, Key Aide in Kennedy and Johnson Admins

wikipedia

Shoshanna Utchenik
ticklethewire.com

Nicholas DeBelleville Katzenbach, who worked  as a lawyer for the Justice Department during the Kennedy administration and became Attorney General under the Johnson regime, only to bump heads with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover,  died Tuesday at age 90.

Serving a crucial role in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, it was Katzenbach who stood up to Governor George Wallace’s segregation efforts, his “stand in the schoolhouse door,” by personally assisting two African-American students, James Hood and Vivian Malone, through the doors of the University of Alabama. Malone would later become the first black graduate of U of Alabama, as well as Attny General Eric Holder’s sister-in-law.

The 1960s were “an exciting time,” Katzenbach had told the AP. “There were lots of young people who got themselves involved in civil rights, and later in protesting the Vietnam War, feeling involved in the government and what’s going on in their own future. To my mind that’s what makes this a great country.”

Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. issued a statement Wednesday, saying:

“Today, we mourn the loss of Nicholas Katzenbach, one of our Nation’s great champions of civil rights and equal justice. Throughout a life that spanned 90 years, he served our country in many ways – as an attorney, activist, Presidential Advisor, U.S. Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, and U.S. Army Officer.

“During WWII, Second Lieutenant Katzenbach battled oppression overseas – and survived more than a year in a German prison camp – before returning home to fight for the cause of equal opportunity.

“Throughout one of the most challenging and consequential eras in American history, his extraordinary talents – and dedicated leadership of the Department of Justice – helped to guide our Nation forward from the dark days of segregation and to secure the successful passage of the landmark Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts.”

To read more click here.

Ex-Miss. U.S. Attorney H.M. Ray Who Served 20 Years Dies at Age 86

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Former Mississippi U.S. Attorney H.M. Ray, whose 20- year reign included the 1960s civil rights era, and who served under five presidents, died at age 86, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported.

Ray was appointed by President Kennedy to the Jackson, Miss. office, and resigned right after Ronald Reagan became president in 1981.

“We were very close. He was a great boss,” former assistant U.S. attorney John Hailman of Oxford, Miss. told the Commercial Appeal.  “Mainly, he insisted that we do the right thing. He was very courageous about taking unpopular stances, and he always backed us up.”

Some of his higher profile cases included the prosecution of  four men linked to the shooting deaths of two people during rioting over the entrance of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi in 1962, the paper reported. The men were not convicted.

Ray also served in the state House from 1948 to 1951. After resigning as U.S. Attorney,  he went off to  practice law with the Wise, Carter, Child & Caraway firm in Jackson. He then went to work for then-state Atty. Gen. Mike Moore, the Commercial Appeal reported.

“He was quite a mentor for me, and I learned a lot from him. He was a great lawyer and an even better person,”  Moore told the paper.

FBI Pleads for Public Help to Solve about 43 Civil-Rights Era Murders in Miss.

The FBI is turning to the public,  calling for help to bring some justice to a painful era of decades past. Will the calls fall on deaf ears? Very possible, but FBI director Robert Mueller III said he isn’t giving up.

By TIMOTHY R. BROWN
Associated Press Writer
JACKSON, Miss. — The FBI pleaded for information Thursday about 43 unsolved civil rights-era slayings in Mississippi, saying time is running out because potential witnesses and suspects are growing old or dying.
The agency launched an initiative in 2006 to tackle cold cases from the mid-1950s to the late and 1960s, mostly in the South. Though the effort hasn’t resulted in any new prosecutions, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said his agency remains committed to it.
Officials from several state and federal agencies joined together in Mississippi to issue a call for help from the public.
“We owe it to the victims. We owe to the people,” said Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood. “We owe it to future generations to know that we did everything we possibly could.”
Last year, President George W. Bush signed the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act, which gives the Justice Department more money to investigate such crimes.
Till was a black teenager slain in Mississippi in 1955 after being accused of whistling at a white woman. No one has been convicted.
A grand jury examined evidence from a three-year FBI investigation but in 2007 declined to issue indictments.
U.S. Attorney Jim M. Greenlee, who handled the case, said even though no one was prosecuted, a grand jury saw all the evidence.
“We just couldn’t find any way of finding a federal crime (in the Till case), but I think that the process was … good,” Greenlee said. “You have to read through everything. It’s easy for people to say that they know this happened, but that’s hearsay. You have to find someone who actually saw it who can remember it. And then you’ve got to corroborate that.”
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