Other Notable Deaths

October 01, 2007

GEORGE BROOKS SR., 81 Civil rights activist

The Rev. George Brooks Sr., a longtime civil rights activist in Phoenix who founded a church, served in the state Legislature and led an Arizona NAACP chapter in the 1960s, died Wednesday after an extended illness, said his son, George Brooks Jr.

Mr. Brooks took the helm of the Maricopa County chapter of the NAACP in 1961 and fought for the rights of blacks who struggled to get jobs, were barred from Phoenix hotels and could only find a handful of places to buy a meal in the city.

He served a term as a legislator in 1991-1992 after a scandal led to the convictions of seven lawmakers for bribery and other crimes. He also was a longtime member of the Roosevelt Elementary School District board.

Mr. Brooks founded Southminster Presbyterian Church and helped bring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to Phoenix in the 1960s.

Mr. Brooks was an Election Day fixture in south Phoenix's black neighborhoods, driving the streets in his pickup and calling out residents by name over a loudspeaker, urging them to go to the polls.

WILLIAM P. MURPHY, 87 Constitutional law professor

Constitutional law professor William P. Murphy, who enraged Mississippi segregationists in the 1950s and 1960s by teaching that school integration was the law of the land, died Saturday in Chapel Hill, N.C., where had retired, said his son, Rob Murphy. His death was attributed to prostate cancer.

Mr. Murphy taught from 1953 to 1962 at the University of Mississippi, which had the state's only law school at the time. He moved away from Oxford about a month before federal troops were called in to enforce the admission of the first black student at Ole Miss, undergraduate James Meredith.

He was, "in effect, run out of the state" for teaching law students that public school systems had to abide by the Supreme Court's 1954 ruling that segregated schools were unconstitutional, journalist Bill Minor said Saturday.

Mr. Murphy grew up in Memphis, Tenn., and earned a law degree from the University of Virginia and a doctorate from Yale University. When he taught at Ole Miss, it was a training ground for many who went on to serve in elected office.

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