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Judge Matthew Perry, Once a Pioneering Civil Rights Lawyer, Dies at 89

Posted Aug 1, 2011 6:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Senior U.S. District Judge Matthew Perry, a pioneering civil rights lawyer, has died at 89.

Perry would have turned 90 on Wednesday, an event that was to have been celebrated this weekend at a party organized by lawyers in Hilton Head, S.C., the Washington Post reports. The newspaper calls Perry “a towering civil rights figure who used intellect, hard work and courage to end segregation in South Carolina.”

Perry went to work on Friday at a courthouse named in his honor and died over the weekend. He had a longtime interest in the law. In college, he watched trials at the courthouse in Columbia, where he saw the late Thurgood Marshall argue two cases.

As a lawyer, he represented protestors, called attention to unfair housing and the disproportionate number of blacks on death row, and helped desegregate Clemson and the University of South Carolina. The Associated Press also has an obituary.

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