Lawrence Guyot, civil rights leader, dies after decades of activism
Lawrence Guyot, a 73-year-old civil rights activist who survived beatings and went to prison in Mississippi in the 60s, died late Thursday night. Guyot was a long-time advocate of voter rights.
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Susan Glisson, executive director of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi, called Guyot "a towering figure, a real warrior for freedom and justice."Skip to next paragraph
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"He loved to mentor young people. That's how I met him," she said.
When she attended Ole Miss, students reached out to civil rights activists and Guyot responded.
"He was very opinionated," she said. "But always — he always backed up his opinions with detailed facts. He always pushed you to think more deeply and to be more strategic. It could be long days of debate about the way forward. But once the path was set, there was nobody more committed to the path."
Glisson said Guyot's efforts helped lay the groundwork for the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
"Mississippi has more black elected officials than any other state in the country, and that's a direct tribute to his work," she said.
Guyot was born in Pass Christian, Miss., on July 17, 1939. He became active in civil rights while attending Tougaloo College in Mississippi, and graduated in 1963. Guyotreceived a law degree in 1971 from Rutgers University, and then moved to Washington, where he worked to elect fellow Mississippian and civil rights activist Marion Barry as mayor in 1978.
"When he came to Washington, he continued his revolutionary zeal," Barry told The Washington Post on Friday. "He was always busy working for the people."
Guyot worked for the District of Columbia government in various capacities and as a neighborhood advisory commissioner.
D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton told The Post in 2007 that she first met Guyot within days of his beating at a jail in Winona, Miss. "Because of Larry Guyot, I understood what it meant to live with terror and to walk straight into it," she told the newspaper. On Friday, she called Guyot "an unsung hero" of the civil rights movement.
"Very few Mississippians were willing to risk their lives at that time," she said. "But Guyot did."
In recent months, his daughter said he was concerned about what he said were Republican efforts to limit access to the polls. As his health was failing, he voted early because he wanted to make sure his vote was counted, he told the AFRO newspaper.
Funeral services are pending.