A Tribute to William P. Murphy: Labor Law Trail-Blazer and Man of Unflinching Principle
4 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2008
Date Written: 2008
It is somewhat strange to write a tribute to a person that one has never had the pleasure to meet. Yet, I feel than I am compelled to write about a great man, William Bill Murphy, for in two significant ways he made my career as a law professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law a possibility.
First, post-Brown in 1950's Mississippi, Bill sought to make the transition to integration as painless as possible for his fellow Southerners and he would not accept talk about the illegitimacy of the Supreme Court or its constitutional holdings. Of course, he was mistaken in his optimism, but his adherence to the rule of law and to his principles, when many others sought to avoid the racial situation altogether, was not only praiseworthy, but utterly courageous.
Second, Bill used his position of prestige at the law school to state that labor unions were legitimate, reasonable, and important institutions for the development of the South. Although unions are still anathema to many in this region, his writings helped to raise the level of the dialogue immensely on this controversial topic.
So, quite simply, Bill Murphy, a man I never met, is a not only an inspiration to me, but a trail-blazer who made it possible for me to write freely about civil rights, labor, and employment issues in the Mississippi of today.
Keywords: William Murphy, Bill Murphy, Mississippi, labor law, Brown
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