Today's school children may read of Floyd McKissick or learn about the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) from history books. But during the turbulent 1960s, Mr. McKissick was a daily news event. Time and again, he raised hackles with speeches, led charged-up demonstrators or found new ways to challenge the restrictions of separate and unequal status for blacks.
Mr. McKissick, 69, died April 28. At the height of his influence, during the chaotic days of Vietnam war protests, few of his opponents knew he had won a Purple Heart during World War II. He attended North Carolina College, then, represented by Thurgood Marshall, sued to become the first black student at the University of North Carolina law school. Just after he passed the bar exam, Mr. McKissick went on the attack again.
As legal counsel to CORE, Mr. McKissick criss-crossed the South, bringing a fiery passion to the Freedom Rides that eventually desegregated 120 interstate bus terminals. More moderate leaders wanted a cooling-off period, but CORE refused.