John Doar History Trail Walk Opens Saturday
The city of New Richmond, Wisconsin, will open the John Doar History Trail on Saturday. As the lead lawyer in the South for the United States Department of Justice during the 1960s, Doar played an important role in the civil rights movement, and he later served as special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Richard Nixon.
Doar was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2012. He died in 2014.
New Richmond may seem off the beaten path of the 1960s civil rights movement (though Wisconsin has been on the forefront of a lot of movements in its time), but the John Doar History Trail is especially significant to TPOH because John Doar is the father of Robert Doar, the former Commissioner of both New York City's Human Resources Administration and the state's Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. Robert Doar is a lead voice in the fight against poverty and co-chairs the National Commission on Hunger, which researches and advises federal policymakers on ways to reduce the poverty level.
He is also one of TPOH's favorite scholars and inspirations. He has this to say about his dad and the issues they both fight for.
The new trail, which includes interpretive panels telling the story of Dad's public service, arcs around an old mill pond near the center of the town in northwest Wisconsin where Dad grew up. Dad believed every American should be afforded the same rights and responsibilities before the law. This applied to sharecroppers in Mississippi and presidents of the United States. Facts and more facts were the key to all of his arguments. "Nouns and verbs, not adjectives, win cases," he would say. The opening of the trail will be an occasion to recognize someone who spent his career working for racial justice and the rule of law. Barack Obama, Paul Ryan, Scott Walker, and Hillary Clinton have sent letters of support for the trail. Official poverty rates for 2016 will come out early next month, and while the official poverty rate is badly flawed, the number this year is likely to be the lowest in the past nine years. I anticipate it being still lower next year as well, reflecting the importance of a strong economy for the prospects of our nation's lowest-income families.