A New Richmond native has received the nation’s highest civilian honor. It was Mississippi in 1963. The murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers had increased racial tensions. Black men and women at Evers’ funeral were ready to fight white cops. The man was Wisconsin native John Doar, who left a law practice in New Richmond to join the Justice Department.
Doar found himself on the front lines as President Kennedy’s civil rights troubleshooter. And his work was recognized Tuesday by President Obama with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. “He gave civil rights workers a reason not give up on those in power, and he did it by never giving up on them,” said President Obama. “I think it’s fair to say that I might not be here had it not been for his work.”
Doar – now living in New York – will celebrate his 90th birthday later this year. In the 1970s, Doar and fellow New Richmond native Arvid “Bud” Sather were legal counsels for the House committee that drew up the Acts of Impeachment leading to President Nixon’s resignation. Another partner in the Doar law firm at the time was Warren Knowles, who would go on to become governor of Wisconsin.
Among the others honored Tuesday at the White House, were retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn and singer/songwriter Bob Dylan.
AUDIO: WIXK’s Jeff Petersen (1:30)