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Obit: Former Attny Gen Nicholas Katzenbach Championed Civil Rights, Key Aide in Kennedy and Johnson Admins

wikipedia

Shoshanna Utchenik
ticklethewire.com

Nicholas DeBelleville Katzenbach, who worked  as a lawyer for the Justice Department during the Kennedy administration and became Attorney General under the Johnson regime, only to bump heads with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover,  died Tuesday at age 90.

Serving a crucial role in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, it was Katzenbach who stood up to Governor George Wallace’s segregation efforts, his “stand in the schoolhouse door,” by personally assisting two African-American students, James Hood and Vivian Malone, through the doors of the University of Alabama. Malone would later become the first black graduate of U of Alabama, as well as Attny General Eric Holder’s sister-in-law.

The 1960s were “an exciting time,” Katzenbach had told the AP. “There were lots of young people who got themselves involved in civil rights, and later in protesting the Vietnam War, feeling involved in the government and what’s going on in their own future. To my mind that’s what makes this a great country.”

Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. issued a statement Wednesday, saying:

“Today, we mourn the loss of Nicholas Katzenbach, one of our Nation’s great champions of civil rights and equal justice. Throughout a life that spanned 90 years, he served our country in many ways – as an attorney, activist, Presidential Advisor, U.S. Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, and U.S. Army Officer.

“During WWII, Second Lieutenant Katzenbach battled oppression overseas – and survived more than a year in a German prison camp – before returning home to fight for the cause of equal opportunity.

“Throughout one of the most challenging and consequential eras in American history, his extraordinary talents – and dedicated leadership of the Department of Justice – helped to guide our Nation forward from the dark days of segregation and to secure the successful passage of the landmark Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts.”

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