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Civil Rights Pioneer John Doar Dies At 92


Now let's remember a figure from a period of turmoil in the United States. John Doar died yesterday. He was 92. He investigated the murders of three civil rights workers in 1964. Here's NPR's Hansi Lo Wang.

HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: My name is John Doar - D-O-A-R, he once shouted into a violent crowd in Mississippi. I'm from the Justice Department, and anybody here knows what I stand for is right.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It was a scorching hot day in 1963, and Mississippi was on the verge of a massacre.

WANG: President Obama recounted the moment in 2012 when John Doar received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Doar had risked his life to calm young, black demonstrators and armed, white police after the funeral of civil rights activist Medgar Evers. Historian Taylor Branch says the white Justice Department official was dedicated.

TAYLOR BRANCH: He had one child that was born that he didn't name for two months because he was always off in one civil rights crisis or another down in the South.


JOHN DOAR: I had the opportunity to work on a very important problem in American government.

WANG: On C-SPAN in 2009, Doar reflected on his public service, which laid the groundwork for the Voting Rights Act, President Obama said in a statement. And without Doar's courage and perseverance, Obama added, he might not be where he is today. Hansi Lo Wang, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Hansi Lo Wang (he/him) is a national correspondent for NPR reporting on the people, power and money behind the U.S. census.