Civil Rights

Loren Miller

Loren Miller was an African American attorney, judge, and civil rights activist who made significant contributions to the fight against racial discrimination and injustice in the United States. He was born on April 20, 1903, in Pender, Nebraska, and passed away on July 14, 1967. Miller attended law school at the University of Southern California (USC), becoming one of the few African American students in his class. After graduating in 1929, he faced racial discrimination and struggled to find employment at white-owned law firms. This experience drove him to open his own law practice, focusing on civil rights and representing African American clients facing discrimination.

Attorney Loren Miller (center) awaiting a verdict in 1963. Miller spent most of his career fighting housing discrimination and racist housing covenants.

Throughout his legal career, Miller fought against racially restrictive covenants that prevented African Americans from buying property in certain neighborhoods. He played a crucial role in several landmark cases challenging housing segregation in California, including Shelley v. Kraemer (1948). In this case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racially restrictive covenants were unenforceable, a significant step toward dismantling housing segregation.

Miller was actively involved in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), serving as the organization’s assistant West Coast regional counsel. He worked on various civil rights cases, including those dealing with employment discrimination, voting rights, and police brutality. In addition to his legal work, Loren Miller was an influential journalist and publisher. He co-founded the California Eagle, a prominent African American newspaper that provided a platform for discussing civil rights issues and advocating for racial equality.

Judge Loren Miller and his wife Juanita Ellsworth in front of American airline terminal gate.

Later in his career, Miller was appointed as a Los Angeles Municipal Court judge in 1964, becoming the first African American to hold that position. Despite facing challenges and discrimination throughout his life, he remained committed to the pursuit of justice and equality for all.

Loren Miller’s legacy as a pioneering civil rights attorney and activist continues to inspire and remind us of the ongoing struggle for equal rights and social justice. His efforts in the legal and civil rights arenas helped advance the cause of racial equality in the United States.

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