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Tributes to civil rights lawyer William Taylor

Emma Brown

William L. Taylor, who died Monday, was a longtime civil rights lawyer whose name was not widely known but whose experience and expertise made him instrumental to the business of Washington: hammering out the laws of the land.

In his dogged efforts to strengthen the nation's civil rights protections, he often was in the room when deals were made to pass legislation, and he acted as a sounding board for key players in Congress and the executive branch.

As news of his death circulated yesterday, a number of individuals and organizations put out statements honoring Mr. Taylor's incredible body of work over six decades. Here are some of the tributes, and many more can be found on Alexander Russo's "This Week in Education" blog:

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan:

"I am deeply saddened by the death of Bill Taylor. He dedicated his career to ensuring that poor and minority children had access to a high quality education. Whether he was in the courtroom, the halls of government, or in a congressional hearing room, Bill Taylor was a consistent voice for equality and justice--a voice that will be deeply missed."

The Washington Post Editorial Board:

"BILL TAYLOR was not one of those bold-face Washington names -- except to those in the civil rights movement. If you were in that movement, you probably knew William L. Taylor, who died Monday at the age of 78; and if you didn't know him, you certainly knew what he had accomplished." Click here to continue reading the editorial from July 2, 2010.

U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA) George Miller, chairman of House Labor and Education Committee:

"I am deeply saddened by the news of Bill Taylor's passing. Today, we mourn the loss of a true pioneer in education. A friend, an ally, a trusted advocate and true hero, Bill's steadfast commitment to helping all children shaped the way we educate children in this country.

"For more than half a century, Bill Taylor's voice was synonymous with equality. He was not only a leading voice in the civil rights community, but also kept the drumbeat going to ensure a child's plight never went unheard. His relentless pursuit of equality was evident in everything he did. He lived above reproach, always fighting for what was right, always doing more than most could ever think possible, always thinking of what was next.

"He served as a lawyer, an advocate, a civil servant - all with true tenacity and passion. Today, children across the country have lost a powerful voice, the education community has lost a hero. Bill will be deeply missed. My thoughts and prayers are with the Taylor family on this difficult day."


"William Taylor embraced his status as a staunch advocate for educational equity throughout his storied legal career," said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. "His contributions to the desegregation of our nation's education system were unparalleled and invaluable, and we will miss him."

Taylor's esteemed career as a civil rights lawyer spanned six decades. While at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, he worked with legendary NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall, the first African American to serve as Unites States Supreme Court Justice. Taylor's reputation was that of a devoted supporter of educational civil rights, and he successfully litigated several public school desegregation cases that followed the NAACP's historic Brown v. Board of Education victory.

"Bill Taylor was a friend of the NAACP and played a critical role in advancing civil rights in education both in the courtroom and on the national public policy stage," said NAACP Washington Bureau Director Hilary Shelton.

"His steadfast commitment to the enforcement of civil rights was demonstrated by his influence in the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in 1982, the passage of the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988 and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, among others. His legacy will live on through the landmark legislation and legal battles he so effectively waged and won on behalf of children of all races and ethnicities nationwide."

By Emma Brown  |  June 30, 2010; 2:19 PM ET
Categories:  Civil Rights , Emma Brown , Washington DC-area people  | Tags: bill taylor civil rights lawyer, bill taylor tributes, william l taylor civil rights lawyer, william l taylor tributes  
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