Sept. 18, 2013 – Wisconsin’s most famous civil rights attorney, John Doar, will receive the Charles L. Goldberg Distinguished Service Award for his lifetime record of service both to the legal profession and to the public at the 2013 Fellows of the Wisconsin Law Foundation (WLF) Annual recognition dinner in Madison on Oct. 3.
After graduating from the University of California-Berkeley School of Law in 1949, Doar was admitted to the State Bar of Wisconsin. He practiced law for 10 years with his father and uncle at Doar Drill & Skow in New Richmond before heading to the nation’s capital where he led federal efforts to defend equality and enforce civil rights in the tumultuous 60s. As first assistant to the Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, Doar prosecuted voting rights cases during a critical time of the civil rights era.
In his letter of nomination, Doar’s older brother, William, who serves as of counsel with Doar Drill & Skow, proudly notes the thick file of newspaper and magazine articles covering his brother’s accomplishments during his years at the Department of Justice, which included two years as the head of the Civil Rights Division. His most notable accomplishments include:
Helping James Meredith become the first African American admitted to the University of Mississippi. Doar escorted Meredith to the admissions office in 1962.
Defusing a potentially deadly riot in Mississippi in 1963 following the funeral of civil rights activist Medgar Evers who was murdered by an American white supremacist.
Serving as a chief prosecutor in a federal case against Klan-police conspirators in the killings of three voting rights workers in the famed “Mississippi Burning” trial.
John Doar (right) escorts James Meredith to the University of Mississippi admissions office in 1962. Meredith was the first African American admitted to the university.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, U.S. News & World Report Magazine Collection [reproduction number, e.g., LC-U9-15739, frame 18].
In 1973, Doar served as special counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s investigation of President Richard Nixon for the Watergate Scandal, which eventually led to Nixon’s impeachment and resignation.
President Obama presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Doar in 2012. He said:
“As African Americans strove for justice, John Doar led Federal efforts to defend equality and enforce civil rights. Risking his life to confront the injustices around him, he prevented a violent riot, obtained convictions for the killing of civil rights activists, and stood by the first African-American student at the University of Mississippi on his first day of class. During pivotal moments in the civil rights movement, and in the troubled times of the Watergate scandal, John Doar fought to protect the core values of liberty, equality, and democracy that have made America a leader among nations.”
The award will be presented at the Fellows of the Wisconsin Law Foundation Annual Recognition Dinner on Oct. 3 in Madison. The 2013 Class of Fellows of the Wisconsin Law Foundation will be inducted at this event.
For more information, email Beth Drake or call her at (608) 250-6171, or (800) 444-9404, ext. 6171.
About the Wisconsin Law Foundation
The Wisconsin Law Foundation (WLF), founded in 1951, is the charitable arm of the State Bar of Wisconsin. WLF is a charitable and educational organization the serves to promote public understanding of the law, improvement of the administration of justice and other law-related public service through funding of innovative and creative programs that improve the vision of the American justice systems.
Read an in-depth article on Doar’s accomplishments published in InsideTrack, Vol. 4, Issue 11.