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Crispus A. Wright
The birth of Crispus Attucks Wright in 1914 is celebrated on this date. He was an African American civil rights lawyer and businessman.
Wright's father was born a slave in Louisiana. He graduated from Louisiana's Leland University. The elder Wright was a teacher and high school principal who stressed to his children the importance of an education.
Young Wright came to Los Angeles with his dying father, who wanted to live his final days in what was then the Southland's cleansing, dry air. Crispus sold newspapers at the Dunbar Hotel on Central Avenue.
While attending Manual Arts High School, Wright would often stop at the Los Angeles County Courthouse to watch lawyers arguing cases. There he observed the skill of Willis O. Tyler, one of the LA's most outstanding Black lawyers and his interest in law and civil rights gained momentum. Wright attended University of California at LA (UCLA) and USC law school while working at a drugstore and the Vernon Branch Library. He earned both a B.A. in political science (1936) and his L.L.B. (1938) from USC.
In 1940, Wright opened his firm in south-central Los Angeles. Three years later, he co-founded the John M. Langston Bar Association of Los Angeles that remains the principal Black legal association in the LA area. As a young lawyer, Wright helped the NAACP prepare the late-1940s case that led the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down restrictive real estate contracts as unconstitutional. Wright also owned and operated a number of businesses in the Los Angeles area and was chairman of the board of the Los Angeles Sentinel.
After nearly 50 years in the legal profession, he closed his office in Beverly Hills in 1987. He was a member of the National Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.
In 1997, Wright gave $2 million to the University of Southern California's Law Center, to establish a scholarship in his name. His decision to donate to his old school was partially inspired by the $50 scholarships that helped him through law school.
Wright died on Dec. 4, 2001 in Los Angeles.
The University of Southern California
Law and Public Policy Depatrment
Gilien Silsby, USC Law School