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Crockett, George William, Jr.

Crockett, George William, Jr.

August 10, 1909
September 7, 1997

George William Crockett Jr. was born in Jacksonville, Florida, received his B.A. degree from Morehouse College in 1931 and his law degree from the University of Michigan in 1934, and became a champion of civil rights. In 1939 he became the first African-American attorney at the United States Department of Labor. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him hearings officer of the Fair Employment Practices Committee in 1943. In 1944 he became head of the United Auto Workers Fair Employment Practices Office and returned to private practice in Detroit in 1946.

In 1949 Crockett undertook the defense of eleven Communists charged under the Smith Act; for his vigorous defense he was sentenced to four months in jail for contempt of court and narrowly escaped disbarment. In 1964 Crockett again demonstrated his commitment to civil rights by becoming director of Project Mississippi for the National Lawyers Guild. He sought election to Detroit Recorder's Court in 1960, winning a six-year term and later a second term in 1972.

As a judge, Crockett was noted for his lenient treatment of first-time offenders and his concern for civil rights. In 1969 a policeman was killed outside a black church where a meeting of black separatists was underway. The police stormed the church and arrested 140 people. Crockett went to the police station, declared court in session, and began freeing those he deemed held without probable cause. Almost all were released.

Crockett's popularity with blacks in Detroit was demonstrated by his election to the House of Representatives in 1980 with 98 percent of the vote. He served six terms.

See also Civil Rights Movement, U.S.; Politics in the United States


Brennan, Carol. "George Crockett, Jr." In Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 10. Detroit: Gale, 1996.

Thomas, Robert McG., Jr. "George W. Crockett Dies at 88; Was a Civil Rights Crusader." New York Times, September 15, 1997.

robert l. johns (2001)

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