Taylor, William L. 1931–
Taylor, William L. 1931–
PERSONAL: Born October 4, 1931, in Brooklyn, NY; married Harriett Rosen; children: Lauren, Deborah, David. Education: Brooklyn College, B.A. (cum laude), 1952; Yale Law School, LL.B., 1954.
ADDRESSES: Office—Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights, 2000 M St. N.W., Ste. 400, Washington, DC 20036. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Admitted to the bars of New York State, District of Columbia, and the U.S. Supreme Court; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Education Fund, attorney, 1954–58; Americans for Democratic Action, legislative representative, 1959–61; U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, general counsel, 1963–65, staff director, 1965–68; Center for National Policy Review, founder and director, 1970–86; in private practice, 1986–. Adjunct professor at Catholic University Law School and Georgetown Law School.
Affiliated with Metropolitan Washington Planning and Housing Association, 1976, and Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund, 1976; Citizens's Commission on Civil Rights, acting chair; Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, vice chair, 1990s–; Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund, president; Poverty and Race Research Action Council, board and executive committee member. Also commencement speaker at Brooklyn College, 2001. Military service: U.S. Army, 1956–58.
AWARDS, HONORS: Yale Law School senior fellow, 1969–70; National Endowment for the Humanities grant, 1974; Thurgood Marshall Award, District of Columbia Bar, 1993; Hubert H. Humphrey Award, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, 2001; honorary degree, Brooklyn College, 2001.
Hanging Together: Equality in an Urban Nation, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1971.
Racial Segregation: Two Policy Views; Reports to the Ford Foundation, Ford Foundation (New York, NY), 1979.
(With Dianne M. Pichbe) A Report on Shortchanging Children: The Impact of Fiscal Inequity on the Education of Students at Risk, Committee on Education and Labor, U.S. House of Representatives, One Hundred First Congress, U.S. Government Printing Office (Washington, DC), 1990.
(Editor, with Karen McGill Arrington) Voting Rights in America: Continuing the Quest for Full Participation, Leadership Conference Education Fund, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (Washington, DC), 1992.
(Editor, with Susan M. Liss) New Opportunities: Civil Rights at a Crossroads; Report of the Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights, Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights (Washington, DC), 1993.
The Passion of My Times: An Advocate's Fifty-Year Journey in the Civil Rights Movement (memoir), Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2004.
A collection of Taylor's papers is held by the Library of Congress. Contributor of law reviews to periodicals, including the Yale Law Journal, Columbia Law Review, New York University Law Review, North Carolina Law Review and Fordham Law Review. Contributor of articles to the New York Times, Washington Post, and the New York Review of Books.
SIDELIGHTS: From the beginning of his career, William L. Taylor has been a civil rights advocate. He began his career as a staff attorney with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense and Education Fund. During the 1960s, his work with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights led to the enactment of civil rights laws. For sixteen years, Taylor was director of the Center for National Policy Review, the advocacy organization he founded that relied on private funding to conduct research. Taylor continues his work through organizations like the Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. He worked for the reform of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, led coalitions that blocked the confirmation of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court in 1987, and was instrumental in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 and the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.
Taylor was lead counsel in several important school desegregation cases and helped write the brief that resulted in the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988 and desegregation in Little Rock, Arkansas, and he continues to be an advocate for poor and minority children. He writes of his long career in his memoir, The Passion of My Times: An Advocate's Fifty-Year Journey in the Civil Rights Movement. He also recalls his childhood as the son of Lithuanian immigrants and tells how he formed an interdenominational ball team in his Brooklyn neighborhood with the intent of surpassing the all-Jewish team. Taylor, who is Jewish, was a Dodger fan who was inspired to join the NAACP by his hero, Jackie Robinson. Taylor comments on the administration of George W. Bush and writes that former attorney general John Ashcroft "flatout lied" about his opposition to segregation.
A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that "what makes Taylor's book of special value, particularly to historians of the era, is that Taylor neither dramatizes nor romanticizes this work." A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that The Passion of My Times "is a "vivid and illuminating account of what it's taken, thus far, to get minority rights from the Constitution onto the street."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Taylor, William L., The Passion of My Times: An Advocate's Fifty-Year Journey in the Civil Rights Movement, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2004.
Booklist, November 1, 2004, Vanessa Bush, review of The Passion of My Times, p. 449.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2004, review of The Passion of My Times, p. 953.
Publishers Weekly, October 25, 2004, review of The Passion of My Times, p. 37.