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Roger Wilkins, civil rights champion in government and journalism, dies at 85

Historians in the News
tags: civil rights, obituary, Roger Wilkins



Roger W. Wilkins, a ranking Justice Department official during the 1960s who later composed Pulitzer Prize-winning editorials about the Watergate scandal for The Washington Post and wrote unsparingly about the conflicts and burdens he experienced as a black man in positions of influence, died March 26 at a nursing home in Kensington, Md. He was 85. 

The cause was complications from dementia, said his daughter Elizabeth Wilkins. 

In a career that traversed law, journalism and education, Mr. Wilkins made matters of race and poverty central to his work as an assistant attorney general in the Johnson administration and later as one of the first black editorial board members at The Post and the New York Times.

By kinship or friendship, he was linked to many black leaders of the civil rights era. Roy Wilkins, who led the NAACP from 1955 to 1977, was an uncle. In law school, Roger Wilkins was an intern for Thurgood Marshall, then director-counsel of the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund and later a U.S. Supreme Court justice.

From a young age, he once wrote, he was compelled to spend his life “blasting through doors that white people didn’t want to open.” ...

Read entire article at The Washington Post


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