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Celebrating the Life of the Late John Payton

WHEREAS, John Payton was born December 27, 1946 and raised in Los Angeles, California; and

WHEREAS, Payton attended Pomona College in California, becoming heavily involved in the civil rights movement, co-founding the institution's Black Student Union, and assisting to recruit African American students to the school; and

WHEREAS, in 1978, after graduating from Harvard Law School, where he served as an editor of the Harvard Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law Review, Payton began his twenty year career at the D.C. law firm, Wilmer Hale; and

WHEREAS, Payton's vision of giving back to his community included serving as the District of Columbia's Corporate Counsel, D.C. Bar President, and as part of an international election observing team during the 1993 South African elections; and

WHEREAS, Payton never lost his commitment to civil rights, taking many pro bono cases, including representing the NAACP in the antitrust lawsuit, NAACP vs. Claiborne Hardware Co., in Mississippi, and the City of Richmond vs. J.A. Croson Co. for affirmative action policies before the Supreme Court; and

WHEREAS, the University of Michigan tapped Payton to serve as lead counsel for their two affirmative action cases Gratz v. Bollinger and Gruffer v. Bollinger, where he represented the school through the U.S. Supreme Court's historic 2003 split decision; and

WHEREAS, in 2008, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund hired Payton to serve as its sixth Director-Counsel, where he tirelessly worked until his passing on March 22, 2012.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that this 103'd National Convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Houston, Texas sends its deepest condolences to the Payton family, while also honoring his lifetime commitment to civil rights and the pursuit of justice; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution will be given to his family as well as be placed in the archives of the NAACP.

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