John Doar (1921-)

John Doar attended St. Paul's Academy in Minneapolis, MN and received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University. He earned a law degree at Boalt Hall in Berkeley, and he served in the Air Force during World War II. Doar served as an attorney and as Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division from 1960-1967. Doar later served as Special Counsel to the House of Representatives. He is currently the senior partner in a private law firm in New York.

Civil Rights Era

John Doar spent most of this time in the Justice Department investigating civil rights abuses in the South and bringing suits against people who violated the 1957 Civil Rights Act. He first filed suits over voter intimidation in Tennessee. In early 1961, he and fellow Department of Justice attorney Bob Owen began investigating voter discrimination in southwest Mississippi with Bob Moses' help. While Doar primarily investigated voter intimidation cases, he also accompanied James Meredith as he enrolled in Ole' Miss in September of 1962. After arranging for Meredith to be registered despite a confrontation with the governor and riots on the school grounds, Doar stayed with Meredith in his dorm room for several weeks, accompanying him to his classes with federal marshals.

In 1964, Doar was involved in the investigation of the murder of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman during Freedom Summer. He authorized the F.B.I. to investigate the case, and he was the lead attorney in the federal trial that led to the conviction of several people for violating the civil rights of the three civil rights workers. Doar also investigated and successfully prosecuted the murder of Viola Luizzo, who was killed while bringing marchers back to Selma from Montgomery. Doar had been present during the entirety of that march. One of Doar's most famous actions occurred after the death of Medgar Evers. Mourners wanted to march up the main street in Jackson, MS, but they were stopped by police. When marchers began throwing bottles and bricks and county police were brought in with shot-guns, Doar stepped between the two groups and convinced the marchers to disperse peacefully.


Information for this biography was gathered from the following sources:

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