George Jr.
American politician
George Jr.
George William Crockett Jr. was an African American attorney, jurist, and congressman from the U.S. state of Michigan. He also served as a national vice-president of the National Lawyers Guild and co-founded what is believed to be the first racially-integrated law firm in the United States. He was associated with the history of the infamous murder of civil rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner.
Biography
George W. Crockett, Jr.'s personal information overview.
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    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1997
    Age 87
    Died on September 7, 1997.
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  • 1995
    Age 85
    From the NLG office in Jackson, Crockett dispatched Guild lawyers to search for the missing men. The effort was in vain, and, years later, Crockett described his growing despair in the 1995 PBS documentary Mississippi America, narrated by Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.
    More Details Hide Details In the film, Crockett recounts his drive from Jackson to Meridian in a personal search for the missing men. He survived an effort of the sheriff to arrange his ambush by loudly offering driving directions, while white supremacists loitered nearby. Crockett returned safely to Jackson. He offered a full report to the Justice Department and the FBI, who refused to take the information. The murdered bodies of the 3 young men, one black, two white, were found days later.
  • 1990
    Age 80
    On Wednesday, March 28, 1990 Crockett, who was affectionately called "Judge" by his House colleagues, announced on the House Floor: "Mr. Speaker, a few days ago the press carried the story on the death of the Honorable Harold Medina, who was the judge who presided over the famous communist trials in New York back in 1949 and 1950.
    More Details Hide Details In the course of that trial, Judge Medina sentenced the five defense lawyers to prison. I'm the only living survivor of those five defense lawyers. "During the four months that I served in a federal prison, it never occurred to me that one day I would also serve in the United States Congress and be a member of the committee having oversight jurisdiction over all federal judges and all federal prisons. "Today, Mr. Speaker, I rise to inform my colleagues that I have decided to retire from the House at the conclusion of the 101st Congress. After 68 years of working, championing unpopular causes, I'm hoping to enjoy a little time off. I've been privileged to serve the people of Michigan's 13th District in this body, and it has been a challenge and an honor I will always cherish." Representative John Conyers, also from Detroit, described Crockett's announcement by saying "When he finished, all the members stood and clapped." Source: Detroit Free Press, March 29, 1990, p. 15A.
  • 1987
    Age 77
    Crockett chaired the Foreign Affairs' Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs from 1987 until his retirement.
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  • 1980
    Age 70
    Crockett was simultaneously elected to a full term in the 97th Congress and was subsequently re-elected to the next four Congresses, serving from November 4, 1980, to January 3, 1991.
    More Details Hide Details Speaker of the House Thomas "Tip" O'Neill swore in 71-year-old Crockett in the presence of Crockett's wife Dr. Harriette Clark Crockett, son, and 96-year-old mother, Mrs. Minnie Crockett. She recited a poem she composed many years earlier titled, Our Children Three. During his tenure, Crockett was a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Democratic Study Group, the Congressional Caucus on Women's Issues, and the Congressional Arts Caucus. He also served on the House Judiciary Committee, the Select Committee on Aging, and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. As a member of the Africa Subcommittee, Crocket authored the Mandela Freedom Resolution, HB.430, which called upon the South Africa government to release Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie Mandela from imprisonment and banning. The resolution was passed by both houses of Congress in 1984. Later, Crockett continued to denounce apartheid in South Africa and was jailed with Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young and others for demonstrating in Washington, DC against apartheid.
    In November 1980, as the candidate of the Democratic Party from Michigan's 13th congressional district, Crockett was elected in a special election to the 96th Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Charles C. Diggs, Jr. from the U.S. House of Representatives.
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  • 1978
    Age 68
    He served there until retiring in 1978.
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  • 1974
    Age 64
    In 1974, Crockett was elected Chief Judge of the Detroit's Recorder's Court.
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  • FIFTIES
  • 1966
    Age 56
    In 1966, Crockett was elected Judge of Recorder's Court, Wayne County, Michigan.
    More Details Hide Details The court handled criminal cases. From that bench, Judge Crockett incurred the wrath of the white corporate media and endured death threats for his role in a highly publicized police shooting, raid, and mass arrest. On March 29, 1969, following an officer-involved shooting outside New Bethel Baptist Church in which a Detroit police officer died, police officers fired into and stormed the church. A secessionist organization, the Republic of New Afrika, had rented the church for a meeting. Witnesses in the majority African-American neighborhood later stated that the responding officers had all been white. More than one-hundred fifty persons, including juveniles, were arrested inside the church and taken to police headquarters. The church pastor called Judge Crockett before dawn. Crockett opened temporary court at police headquarters. In refusing to find probable cause to hold the people from what he termed a “collective punishment” mass arrest, Judge Crockett released 130 of the arrested persons. In the controversy that followed, Detroit saw the appearance of bumper stickers that read, “Sock It to Crockett” and "Impeach Judge Crockett". The police association organized a picket line at the courthouse. The black community and interracial civic organizations supported Crockett.
  • 1965
    Age 55
    In 1965, Crockett became a candidate for the Detroit Common Council.
    More Details Hide Details Bob Millender guided his campaign. Crockett lost by a small margin "after he had been severely red-baited in the election," according to his former law partner Ernie Goodman (A Tribute to George W. Crockett, Jr, privately published, 1997.)
  • 1964
    Age 54
    He founded the National Lawyers Guild’s office in Jackson, Mississippi, and managed the Mississippi Project (a coalition of the NLG and other leading civil rights legal organizations) during the 1964 Freedom Summer.
    More Details Hide Details The infamous murders of the civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner occurred in June of that year. The three had been arrested by local police while investigating the arson of a Black church near Philadelphia, Mississippi. Collaborating with local white supremacist vigilantes, the Neshoba County sheriff released the three men from jail late at night, and other civil rights workers reported their disappearance.
    As large numbers of young civil rights volunteers traveled to the U.S. South in the spring of 1964, Crockett recruited lawyers from the National Lawyers Guild to follow them.
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  • FORTIES
  • 1952
    Age 42
    Crockett’s criticism of McCarthyism and the House Un-American Activities Committee grew after that case, and in 1952 he represented future Detroit mayor Coleman Young and the Rev. Charles A. Hill before the Committee.
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    Crockett served four months in an Ashland, Kentucky Federal prison in 1952.
    More Details Hide Details A portion of Crockett's jury summation at the trial was published in "Freedom is Everybody's Job!: The Crime of the Government Against the Negro People, Summation in the trial of the 11 Communist leaders."
  • THIRTIES
  • 1949
    Age 39
    In 1949, while defending the Smith Act prosecution, Crockett and four other defense attorneys were sentenced by Judge Harold Medina to Federal prison for contempt of court.
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  • 1948
    Age 38
    In 1948, Crockett became a member of the legal team that went to New York for the Foley Square trial to defend 11 Communist Party leaders accused of teaching the overthrow of the Federal government, a violation of the Smith Act.
    More Details Hide Details Among the 11 were Communist Party leaders: Gil Green, Eugene Dennis, Henry Winston, John Gates, Gus Hall, Robert G. Thompson and fellow Morehouse alumnus and first black New York City Councilman Benjamin J. Davis.
  • 1946
    Age 36
    In 1946, Crockett along with partners Ernest Goodman, Morton Eden, and Dean A. Robb, co-founded the corporation believed to be the first racially integrated law firm in the U.S., Goodman, Crockett, Eden, and Robb, in Detroit, Michigan.
    More Details Hide Details The firm, eventually called Goodman, Eden, Millender and Bedrosian, closed in 1998.
  • 1943
    Age 33
    Crockett also worked as a hearing officer in the Federal Fair Employment Practices Commission during 1943.
    More Details Hide Details That same year the United Auto Workers retained Crockett to run the union’s Fair Practices Committee, which tried to oppose so-called “hate strikes” by white workers, who protested the migration North by Black workers.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1939
    Age 29
    As the first African-American lawyer in the U.S. Department of Labor, 1939–43, Crockett worked as a senior attorney on employment cases brought under the National Labor Relations Act, a legislative program of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.
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  • 1937
    Age 27
    Crockett participated in the founding convention of the nation's first racially integrated bar association, the National Lawyers Guild in 1937, and later served that organization as its national vice-president.
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  • 1934
    Age 24
    Crockett received a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1934 and returned to Jacksonville to practice law that year as one of very few African American attorneys in the state of Florida.
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  • 1931
    Age 21
    Crockett graduated from Stanton High School in Jacksonville. In 1931, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia, a prestigious, historically black university that awarded its first degrees in 1897.
    More Details Hide Details He was later given an Honorary LL.D. from Morehouse in 1972, was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, and served as a Trustee of the College for many years. During his Morehouse tenure, Crockett pledged Kappa Alpha Psi.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1909
    Born
    Born in 1909.
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