In my opinion, Charles Morgan was one of the finest individuals ever produced in this country. I am saddened to see his voice silenced. His book "A Time to Speak" published in 1964 is an absolute MUST READ for every child and/or adult in this country. It should be mandated to be included on the reading list at every public school in this nation.
The following is from an article posted today by the NY Times.
Charles Morgan Jr., a leading civil rights lawyer who was often vilified and threatened by fellow whites during the turbulent 1960s in the South but who pressed on to win a landmark lawsuit that helped establish the so-called one-person-one-vote rule, giving blacks more equitable representation in legislative districts, died Thursday at his home in Destin, Fla. He was 78.
The cause was complications of advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease, a family spokesman said. In 1962, Mr. Morgan and other young Alabama lawyers filed a lawsuit to force the reapportionment of the Alabama Legislature. The rural counties of south Alabama had many times the voting strength of the more urban north, allowing the old planter elite to control the Legislature. In 1964 the Supreme Court ruled in the case, Reynolds v. Sims, and ordered a more equitable apportionment. Along with similar cases from other Southern states, Reynolds established the doctrine known as one-person-one-vote, which increased the political power of African-Americans and urban voters.
Among his many cases as a civil rights lawyer, Mr. Morgan sued to desegregate his alma mater, the University of Alabama; forced a new election in Greene County, Ala., that led to the election of six black candidates for local offices in 1969; and successfully challenged racially segregated juries and prisons.
After the civil rights movement began to subside, Mr. Morgan, as a leader of the American Civil Liberties Union, fought three celebrated court cases involving protests against the Vietnam War. He represented Muhammad Ali in his successful court fight to avoid being drafted. He represented the civil rights activist Julian Bond in the early stages of an ultimately successful lawsuit after Mr. Bond had been denied a seat in the Georgia legislature because of his antiwar views. And he defended an officer when he was court-martialed for refusing to help instruct Green Berets headed for Vietnam.
Mr. Morgan lost the Green Beret case, but his attack on the military judicial system brought international attention to the restrictions on the free speech of soldiers.
Mr. Morgan, who was known as Chuck, also led the A.C.L.U. effort to have President Richard M. Nixon impeached.
Mr. Morgan, one of the most colorful lawyers in a region known for them, first came to public attention because of a speech that got him run out of his hometown, Birmingham, Ala. The day after the Ku Klux Klan bombed the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and killed four black girls at Sunday school in 1963, he had taken to a podium and blamed the pillars of Birmingham for the killings: politicians who catered to racist votes and newspaper editors, church leaders and business leaders who refused to take responsibility for the pervasive racial hatred in the city.
“Every person in this community who has in any way contributed during the past several years to the popularity of hatred is at least as guilty, or more so, than the demented fool who threw that bomb,” Mr. Morgan said.
The speech destroyed his budding law practice, which he had already damaged by taking on unpopular civil rights cases, and it led to death threats against his family. He moved to Atlanta to become the Southern director of the A.C.L.U. in 1964, the same year he published a book on his Birmingham experience, “A Time to Speak.”
Charles Morgan Jr. was born March 11, 1930, in Cincinnati and reared in Kentucky. When he was 15, the family moved to Birmingham. He met and married Camille Walpole at the University of Alabama, where he earned a law degree. They had a son, Charles Morgan III. Besides his wife and his son, Mr. Morgan is survived by four grandchildren.
A bulky man, Mr. Morgan held court every day after work in his smoky, whiskey-stained office in Atlanta or, if he were traveling, propped up in a hotel bed in some distant town. His visitors were fellow lawyers, reporters, civil rights advocates and liberal politicians who hovered at the center of the 1960s civil rights movement. He enjoyed performing, whether in the company of friends or in the hearing room of the Supreme Court.
He moved into the campaign against the Vietnam War in 1967, when he represented Capt. Howard Levy at his court-martial at Fort Jackson, S.C. Captain Levy had refused an order to teach dermatology to medical aidmen in Special Forces, known as the Green Berets, saying he considered them “killers of peasants and murderers of women and children.” A military court sentenced him to three years in prison; he served more than two years and became a cause célèbre in the antiwar movement.
Mr. Morgan’s best-known case after he became head of the Washington office of the A.C.L.U. was Mr. Ali’s. Citing his Islamic religious beliefs, Mr. Ali had claimed conscientious-objector status in refusing to be drafted and had been stripped of his heavyweight boxing title because of that stand. After Mr. Ali was convicted of draft evasion in a lower court, Mr. Morgan and the A.C.L.U. took over an appeal of the case, which went to the Supreme Court. It ruled in Mr. Ali’s favor in 1971.
Mr. Morgan’s growing disaffection with the national headquarters of the A.C.L.U. came to a boil in early 1976. At a Washington party, a New York liberal told him that he opposed Jimmy Carter of Georgia for president because, he said, “I could never vote for anybody with a Southern accent.” Mr. Morgan replied, “That’s bigotry, and that makes you a bigot.”
When the encounter was reported in The New York Times, Mr. Morgan was reprimanded by Neier, the executive director of the A.C.L.U., and Mr. Morgan resigned.
Mr. Morgan spent the rest of his career in private practice. He earned large fees and incurred criticism from old friends when he represented large corporations against what he portrayed as government efforts to abridge their rights. He once represented the Tobacco Institute in its opposition to no-smoking laws. He also won major cases for Sears, Roebuck & Company over accusations of race and sex discrimination brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
But it was as an effective voice for civil rights and equal treatment under the law that Mr. Morgan was most remembered in public statements after his death. Less frequently noted was that he also considered himself a proud son of the South and an optimistic champion of its better nature.
“The civil rights movement is freeing the Negro from the bondage of slavery,” he once told a group of Southerners in the 1960s, “and the South is being freed from the bondage of the Negro, and the nation will be freed from the bondage of the South. And then you know what we’re going to do? We’re going to recreate America.”
RIP Mr. Morgan (and thanks)
But that's just me.