Friends Recall a Giant of Civil Rights Law
Some of those who mourn John Payton share their memories of the NAACP LDF's chief.
He Always Delivered
I have been teary-eyed a lot the past few days. I still cannot really believe that John Payton is no longer with us. It was too soon and too sudden. John was at the height of his intellectual powers and he was doing so much sterling work to make life better for others. "How can he be gone?" I keep asking myself. I really cannot fathom this ...
John was a serious, no-nonsense person who did not suffer fools lightly, and he was wonderfully irreverent in tearing down specious traditions to help make our country a better place in which to live. But he was also lighthearted, witty, warm and erudite. When it was time to get something done, John always delivered. President Obama described John as "a true champion of equality ... who helped protect civil rights in the classroom and at the ballot box."
That is an understatement, for John was so much more. He was a brilliant legal scholar and practitioner, an inspiring teacher, a treasured mentor to so many aspiring young attorneys and a loyal and devoted friend to so many of us. All of his friends and colleagues loved and respected him because of his great vision, courage, sterling accomplishments, determination never to be impeded by arbitrary obstacles, grace and goodness. He really was an inspiration.
Judge Harry T. Edwards
U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
A Historic Litigation Leader
I first had the pleasure to meet John Payton during the Clinton era. What I most remember about him is his great respect for humanity, his intensity in using the law to achieve justice and his unparalleled love for his wife.