Clyde Murphy '75, Noted Civil Rights Lawyer, Dead at 62
Public Affairs, 212-854-2650
New York, Aug. 19, 2010—Clyde Murphy ’75, for many years a well-respected civil rights lawyer, died Tuesday in Chicago. He was 62.
The Chicago Tribune reported Murphy died at Illinois Masonic Medical Center after suffering a pulmonary embolism.
Most recently, Murphy served as executive director of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a public interest law consortium of Chicago’s top law firms, where he was credited with implementing new programs to promote the civil rights of the poor and minorities.
“Clyde was a profoundly committed civil rights lawyer who fiercely championed for the poor, marginalized and victims of discrimination,” Betsy Shuman-Moore, director of the committee’s fair housing and violence projects, said in a statement. “Fairness and equal opportunity embodied his life’s work. Although he loved a righteous argument, he was a kind and gentle soul.”
Murphy was a pivotal part of the legal team in Lewis v. City of Chicago, which was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court this year. It upheld a lower-court ruling that Chicago discriminated against more than 6,000 black applicants who took the city’s firefighter’s exam.
"If you don't have African Americans and Latinos who are substantial members of the CFD...who are part of the supervisory and command structure, then, you have a culture in these kinds of public service departments that allows the kind of racist comments and other activities to occur," he said in 2004.
Murphy also worked 19 years at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, where he developed an extensive federal civil rights practice in the areas of employment discrimination, affirmative action, police misconduct and voting rights. From 1990-1995, he was the fund’s Deputy Director-Counsel and Director of its Voting Rights Project.
Murphy also served on the board of directors of MoveSmart.org, a non-profit housing organization.
He is survived by his wife, Monica, a son, Jamal, and two daughters, Akua and Naima.
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