Plaintiff in Springfield anti-discrimination lawsuit dies

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ An original plaintiff in an anti-discrimination lawsuit that changed Springfield’s form of city government has died.

The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports that Ruby Funeral Services and Chapel says William Washington died Sunday at age 84.

Washington and two other black men filed a federal voting-rights lawsuit in 1985. It claimed that the government in Springfield reduced black voting strength.

A mayor and four commissioners were elected at large. No black had been elected since the system took effect in 1911.

A consent decree in 1987 created a city council with 10 aldermen elected from wards. Co-plaintiff Frank McNeil was one of two blacks elected that year.

Washington had a restaurant and published a black newspaper. McNeil says it was bold for the soft-spoken Washington and activist Rudy Davenport to step forward.
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Information from: The State Journal-Register