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RIP: William Taylor [Updated]

Here's George Miller's statement on the passing of civil rights veteran William Taylor:

image from www.all4ed.org“I am deeply saddened by the news of Bill Taylor’s passing. Today, we mourn the loss of a true pioneer in education. A friend, an ally, a trusted advocate and true hero, Bill’s steadfast commitment to helping all children shaped the way we educate children in this country. For more than half a century, Bill Taylor’s voice was synonymous with equality. He was not only a leading voice in the civil rights community, but also kept the drumbeat going to ensure a child’s plight never went unheard. His relentless pursuit of equality was evident in everything he did. He lived above reproach, always fighting for what was right, always doing more than most could ever think possible, always thinking of what was next. He served as a lawyer, an advocate, a civil servant – all with true tenacity and passion. Today, children across the country have lost a powerful voice, the education community has lost a hero. Bill will be deeply missed. My thoughts and prayers are with the Taylor family on this difficult day.”

UPDATE:  Statements from others (including Duncan) are now added in comments  below -- as well as information about services, etc.  Feel free to add your remembrance if you happened to know him.There's a particularly nice one from Sandy Kress.


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DFER statement:

Statement from Democrats for Education Reform on the passing of civil rights crusader (and friend of DFER) Bill Taylor:

We were saddened to learn today of the passing of our dear friend, Bill Taylor, of the Citizens Commission on Civil Rights. As one of the most prominent legal minds behind several key school desegragation cases, and as a leading voice on the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Bill showed us what it looked like to stand up for the little guy - primarily the black students who had been so poorly served by public education in their communities for too many years.

In the last several years, Bill was a mentor for many of us within our expanding coalition for educational justice at the federal level and his sage advice will be sorely missed.

All of us who knew Bill and benefited from his tremendous wisdom and experience are at a loss today. The work we are involved in simply would not have been possible without his tireless pursuit of educational equality for all schoolchildren.

For more information on Democrats for Education Reform, contact www.dfer.org.

this is another remembrance passed along by dianne piche, a longtime colleague and friend of bill's


from dianne piche:

The funeral will be held on Wednesday June 30th at Tifereth Israel at 10:00 a.m.

7701 16th St, NW, Washington, DC 20012

still working on donations etc.

from PFAW:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Drew Courtney or Miranda Blue

June 29, 2010 at 202-467-4999 / [email protected]
PFAW Statement on the Passing of William Taylor

People For the American Way President Michael B. Keegan issued the following statement in response to the news that William Taylor, founder of the Citizens Commission on Civil Rights and a longtime civil rights crusader, died yesterday.

“Bill Taylor was a true giant in the civil rights community and a passionate believer in the cause of equal rights for all Americans. He understood that education was the key to success in this country, and that we would never be true to our principles of justice and equality until every child, no matter her race, religion or economic situation, had equal access to a meaningful education. He was also a close friend and early supporter of People For the American Way; during the early days of our organization, his guidance was instrumental in making sure we had the know-how to pick the important fights in which we wanted to engage.

“I am deeply saddened by his passing. Our thoughts are with his friends and family during this difficult time. I hope that they’ll be comforted by knowing that Bill left a legacy of justice that will endure far beyond his own lifetime. Our country is better for having had champions like Bill Taylor, and all Americans should be grateful for his life and his work.”

and, finally, from arne duncan:

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Issued the Following Statement on the Death of Bill Taylor:

“I am deeply saddened by the death of Bill Taylor. He dedicated his career to ensuring that poor and minority children had access to a high quality education. Whether he was in the courtroom, the halls of government, or in a congressional hearing room, Bill Taylor was a consistent voice for equality and justice—a voice that will be deeply missed.”

from sandy kress, with permission:

I loved Bill Taylor. He was truly one of a kind.

He wan't interested in all the excuses, all the ideologies, all the self-interest that adults often displayed in ways that hurt the interests of poor kids.

Bill was always gentle but also always tough. And he was as tough on his "friends" as his "enemies" when it came to doing right. He was an equal opportunity teller of truth and struggler for justice.

I loved working with Bill on NCLB and defending its strong provisions that were constantly under attack. I loved working with Bill on cases in which forces of the status quo sought to remove pressure on them from changing and improving education for poor kids and kids of color.

I loved talking with Bill about literature and theater and philosophy and history and religion and family. He loved life, and all of us who knew him loved sharing that life with him.

I'll never forget hosting him at the Texas Book Festival where he read from his book and his life story.

What a life it was.

from duncan:

“I am deeply saddened by the death of Bill Taylor. He dedicated his career to ensuring that poor and minority children had access to a high quality education. Whether he was in the courtroom, the halls of government, or in a congressional hearing room, Bill Taylor was a consistent voice for equality and justice—a voice that will be deeply missed.”

i'm told that donations / contributions should be sent to the Bill Taylor Fund at the Leadership Conference Education Fund

from the leadership conference:

http://www.civilrights.org/archives/2010/06/1010-bill-taylor.html - includes mailing information for donations, etc.

from dianne piche, longtime colleague of bill's:

After a long (almost always victorious) struggle - on a settlement agreement, an appeal, a report, a piece of legislation -- Bill was fond of congratulating his team, his co-workers and allies with words of thanks and praise that would inevitably conclude with: "You are all great Americans." To me, this expression represented so much of Bill's public and private persona. Like his close friend Ted Kennedy, Bill steadfastly believed in - and never gave up on -- a United States of America where there should and could be true "liberty and justice for all." He viewed the work of the civil rights movement as patriotism in the most complete sense: we worked within the legal structures and processes set forth in our Constitution to ensure all people could pursue the American dream unhampered by racism, sexism or other forms of discrimination or systemic exclusion. He loved and thrived in the life of the law and its capacity to be a vehicle for hope, change and redemption -- yes, redemption from a past he viewed as stained to this day by the legacy of slavery and the associated apartheid of the poor. He was at his best when his brilliant lawyering intersected with policy, politics and personal engagement. Hence, the great settlements and legislative compromises he negotiated over the course of his long life, agreements that, while never perfect (that was never his realistic goal), moved institutions and systems forward to benefit millions. Think the historic desegregation settlement agreement in St. Louis, other agreements in Ft. Wayne, Cincinatti, cases in Little Rock, Wilmington, DE, and so on. Add to this the legislative victories: in 1964 in realizing JFK's promise of a Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the first Elementary and Secondary Act in 1965 as well, the Voting Rights Act extension, two reauthorizations of the ESEA in 1994 and 2001, and so on... There were many more victories won by Bill Taylor, a friend, mentor and "great American." We will miss him and his brand of patriotism.



NEW YORK, June 29, 2010– The Education Equality Project is saddened by the passing of Bill Taylor, a tireless civil rights advocate whose legal acumen, strong voice, and personal passion for equity in education will be sorely missed. As the director of President Johnson’s Commission on Civil Rights, Bill Taylor and his work inspired generations of civil rights and education advocates, and helped to change a nation. His forceful legal arguments on behalf of students of color and low-income children required to attend inherently unequal schools made him a true champion of education equality. In 1982, Taylor founded the Citizens’ Commission on Civil Rights, which has served as one of the nation’s most important, thoughtful, and influential civil rights advocacy groups under his leadership.

Bill Taylor’s extensive and remarkable career included important work on every aspect of civil rights, from voting rights to job opportunity to equity in education. Taylor was a lawyer, teacher, writer, and leader who inspired countless young people to follow in his footsteps.

We were deeply honored that Taylor was a signatory to the Education Equality Project and hope our work will continue his unwavering commitment to ensure that every child has access to a great school.

We mourn his passing, and extend our sympathies to his family.


The Education Equality Project is leading a civil rights movement to eliminate the racial and ethnic achievement gap in public education by working to create an effective school for every child. Web: www.edequality.org, Twitter: @EdEquality, Email: [email protected]

from Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA):

“The death of Bill Taylor leaves a void in the civil rights community. A champion for all of America’s children; he led a noble fight to ensure they receive a high quality, equal education. Bill’s passion, expertise and influence within the civil rights community will be sorely missed especially by those that needed him most – America’s children.

from coleen yamamura-clark:

"Four years ago Bill Taylor started out as my boss, but became my friend and mentor. I recently completed my second year as a Teach For America corps member, and at our reflection dinner some of my fellow corps members were voicing sentiments of defeat and pessimism in their ability to affect change in the education system in our country. In my rebuttal to their perspectives I cited the life of Bill Taylor. How could any of us expect to alter the education system in two years? Fundamental and permanent systemic transformation cannot happen quickly. It takes place over a lifetime of work. Bill’s life, stories, and tireless advocacy for equity in opportunity for all people have left a indelible mark on the civil rights movement and embodies what a true agent of change must be. I am so grateful to Bill for his passion and relentless pursuit to see our country live up to its promise of equality. When I look into the faces of my students in New Orleans, I know that Bill’s life work has bettered their lives and chances of realizing their full potential. The day after the Teach For America reflection dinners, I called Bill. He was working away in his office and responded to my recounting of the night’s events with a chuckle and, “You give me too much credit Coleen, but I’ll take it!” To me, Bill is an example of what any of us that want to change this world must live up to."

nice writeup from the washington post, with quotes from ralph neas and margaret spellings among others


Bill Taylor was really a good man and a good teacher. We have learned a lot for him. His loss is really a big loss for all of us as he is the true pioneer in education. Thanks for writing about him in this blog. Our thoughts and prayers are always with the Taylor family.

Essay Help

Posted on Business Roundtable's Facebook page:

Business Roundtable is saddened by the passing of Bill Taylor this week. It was in Bill’s role as founder of the Citizens Commission on Civil Rights that Business Roundtable worked closely with him on education reform issues, particularly No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Susan Traiman, on the BRT staff, attended Bill’s f...uneral this morning and adds the following thoughts:

"The remembrances expressed by Bill’s family and his friends in the civil rights movement evoked tears and laughter as anecdotes about his achievements and personality were shared. I had the opportunity to get to know Bill well when Business Roundtable formed a group of like-minded business and civil rights organizations to support the fundamental principles of the No Child Left Behind Act that were in danger of being weakened. Bill was a proud liberal and a proud Democrat, but his primary loyalty was to poor and minority children who are ill-served by many of the schools they attend. He was invited by President George W. Bush in 2007 to join a discussion at the White House about the dangers of the “soft bigotry of low expectations” and afterwards, the President invited Bill to walk with him around the Oval Office. Bill told the President that the last time he had been in the Oval Office was in 1965 with Lyndon Johnson for the Voting Rights Act. Bill was a bridge builder – he would work with anyone who shared his values and he never gave up trying to change the minds of those who differed. For Bill, there were no sacred cows that could not be challenged if the evidence called for a different solution. He will be missed."

William L. Taylor, 78; Washington lawyer, champion of civil rights
William L. Taylor, 78, a Washington lawyer and civil rights activist for more than half a century who fought discrimination on many fronts and was particularly dedicated to desegregating the nation's schools, died June 28 at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda of complications from a fall.
48 minutes ago · Comment ·LikeUnlike · Share

edweek obituary has nice quotes from dianne and from amy wilkins

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