I am profoundly saddened to learn that Jack Greenberg died today.
I had the honor of starting to work with the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., (LDF) representing indigent Death Row inmates in Georga, Florida, and Mississippi while Jack was Director-Counsel of LDF.
Thurgood Marshall named Jack as his successor when he left LDF and later became the first African American US Supreme Court Justice.
Jack is one of the greatest civil rights advocates in the history of this nation. Jack is the last surviving member of the team of legal giants who won Brown v Board of Education. The US Supreme Court in Brown upheld equal justice and human dignity when it struck down “separate but equal” schools in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution. With LDF, Jack pioneered equal justice in and out of court. The genius of LDF, Jack said in 2014, was “the ability to be creative in matters of legal and social justice.” Equal access to schools, parks, recreation, and other benefits, equal access to medical care, the Death Penalty, voting rights, equal pay for equal work, impartial juries, employment discrimination, transportation justice, environmental justice . . . . LDF and Jack led civil rights efforts on behalf of women, Hispanic- and Asian-Americans, gay men and lesbians. Jack helped found the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Asian American Legal Defense Fund, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund (now LatinoJustice), and Human Rights Watch.
I treasure my copy of Jack’s book Crusaders in the Courts: How a Dedicated Band of Lawyers Fought for the Civil Rights Revolution. Jack signed my copy when I became Western Regional Counsel at LDF in 1994.
The City Project joins with our brothers and sisters in the LDF family, and the civil rights and human rights community across the nation and the world, in celebrating Jack’s life and work. The nation and the world is a better place because of Jack. He made many of us better people. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jack’s family.
“Brown continues to stand for Americans’ determination to live up to the ideals of their Constitution,” he wrote, “and for the proposition that our Supreme Court can be a catalyst for fundamental change.” Jack Greenberg, 2014.
The struggle continues.
Robert García, Director-Counsel, The City Project
LDF Remembers Civil Rights Icon Jack Greenberg, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.
Legendary Civil Rights Pioneer and Beloved Professor Jack Greenberg ’48 Dies at 91, Columbia Law School
Jack Greenberg, Civil Rights Champion, Dies at 91, New York Times