December 10, 2016
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Legacy Of Civil Rights Legend William L. Taylor

Posted by Avril Lighty, civilrights.org

William L. Taylor, legendary civil rights attorney and education advocate, passed away yesterday from natural causes.

Taylor was known for his tireless efforts to create a public education system that truly meets the needs of the nation's marginalized children. He successfully litigated a number of major public school desegregation cases in the wake of the Supreme Court's landmark decision inBrown v. Board of Education.

Since 1982, Taylor served as a vice chair of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, where he played a major role as a strategist for passing legislation to extend and strengthen the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He also helped lead successful efforts to enact the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988, the Civil Rights Act of 1991, and the 1993 National Voter Registration Act.

"Bill was an extraordinary lawyer and among the fiercest and most dedicated advocates for the rights of all people in the United States that our country has ever produced. His death leaves a void that won't easily be filled," said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference.

Taylor was born in 1931 in Brooklyn, N.Y.  After graduating from Yale Law School in 1954, he began his legal career as an attorney with theNAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, where he worked alongside Thurgood Marshall. He later served as general counsel of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and was the commission's director from 1965 to 1968. For 15 years, Taylor taught civil rights law at Catholic University, where he founded the Center for National Policy Review, a civil rights research and advocacy organization.

Taylor was also a founder and chairman of the Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights. After entering private practice in 1986, he continued to advocate for education reform legislation on behalf of minority and low-income children.  He also taught law at the Georgetown University Law Center. 

In 1993, Taylor was selected as the first recipient of the D.C. Bar's Thurgood Marshall Award.  In 2001, he received the Hubert H. Humphrey Civil and Human Rights Award, presented to those who best exemplify "selfless and devoted service in the cause of equality."

Taylor was married to the late Superior Court Judge Harriett R. Taylor for 43 years.  They had three children.

The family has requested that tributes in memory of Bill Taylor be made to the William Taylor Memorial Fund, c/o The Leadership Conference Education Fund, 1629 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006. Contributions to the Memorial Fund may also be made online at https://secure.ga1.org/05/support_lccref.

Categories: Civil Rights History



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