John Doar '40 receives Presidential Medal of Freedom
Posted 04/26/2012 11:00PM
SPA alumnus and legendary civil rights prosecutor John Doar is one of 13 individuals selected by President Barack Obama to receive the 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor and is often used by presidents to highlight people or issues important to them. John Doar graduated from St. Paul Academy in 1940 and attended Princeton University and the University of California-Berkeley Law School. He returned to SPA in 2011 to deliver the Commencement address, speaking to the Class of 2011 about his career as a public servant. Read the transcript of John Doar's Commencement address. Other Medal of Freedom honorees this year include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, musician Bob Dylan, astronaut John Glenn, author Toni Morrison, former Israeli president Shimon Peres, and retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. According to the White House press release, John Doar was a legendary public servant and leader of federal efforts to protect and enforce civil rights during the 1960s. He served as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. In that capacity, he was instrumental during many major civil rights crises, including singlehandedly preventing a riot in Jackson, Mississippi, following the funeral of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evars in 1963. Doar brought notable civil rights cases, including obtaining convictions for the 1964 killings of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County, Mississippi, and leading the effort to enforce the right to vote and implement the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He later served as Special Counsel to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary as it investigated the Watergate scandal and considered articles of impeachment against President Nixon. Doar continues to practice law at Doar Rieck Kaley & Mack in New York. Read the official White House press release about this year's Medal of Freedom winners.