A. L. Philpott, 72, the Virginia House of Delegates speaker and one-time segregationist who became a key ally of the nation's first elected black governor, died of cancer Saturday at his home in Bassett, Va. During a 33-year political career he become Virginia's most powerful legislators. He was among the last of the conservative, rural Democrats who ran Virginia for decades. He supported racial segregation when he entered the General Assembly in 1958, but refused to go along with lawmakers who voted to close schools to block integration. In 1985, his early endorsement of then-state Sen. L. Douglas Wilder's campaign to become the state's first black lieutenant governor was credited by many with contributing heavily to Mr. Wilder's victory. Four years later, Mr. Wilder became the country's first elected black governor.
J. P. Coleman, 77, Mississippi's governor from 1956 to 1960 during the infancy of the civil rights movement and later chief judge of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, died Saturday at a nursing home in Ackerman, Miss. In a losing campaign for a second term as governor in 1963, he had tried to run as a moderate on the issue of race. In 1965, then U.S. Sen. James Eastland, powerful chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, pressured President Johnson to appoint Coleman to the federal appeals court in New Orleans. He served as chief judge from 1979-81.