John Michael Doar

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John Michael Doar

Immediate Family:

Ex-husband of <private> Ferguson

Managed by: Erica Howton
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

    • <private> Ferguson

About John Michael Doar

No official in the federal government knew Mississippi better than John Doar, lead prosecutor in the Mississippi Burning Trial. As a young attorney working within the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, John Doar was in downtown Jackson in June, 1963 to prevent a riot following the assassination of civil rights leader Medgar Evers. Doar placed himself between angry black youths and a double line of heavily armed, police ready to move in with clubs and guns. Sidestepping stones and bottles he moved along Farrish Street urging the mob to put down their weapons. "My name is John Doar, D-O-A-R," he shouted. "I'm from the Justice Department, and anybody around here knows I stand for what is right."

In September of 1962, John Doar stood with James Meredith in the doorway outside Room 1007 on the 10th floor of the State Office Building in Jackson as his Meredith's attempt to register as the first black student at the University of Mississippi was blocked by Governor Ross Barnett. Doar said to Governor Barnett, " I call on you to permit us to go on in and see Mr. Ellis and get this young man registered." Doar's request was met with shouts of "No! No!" and then "Get going! Get going!" "Thank you, and we leave politely," Doar said.

When not preventing riots or confronting governors, Doar was usually working tirelessly to protect the voting rights of black southernors. In the end, it was Doar's dogged work that provided, in his words, "a clear demonstration" that the old laws did not work and that new protections were needed. Doar, as the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, watched President Johnson sign into law in August of 1965 the Voting Rights Act. Doar described the Act as "one of the greatest pieces of legislation ever enacted." (1)


  • Frances Ferguson Conroy, a freelance writer, and John M. Doar, who was special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate investigation, were married yesterday. The Rev. Charles Amstin of the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church performed the ceremony at the bridegroom's home. New York Times, May 20, 1984


  1. Biography of John Michael Doar
  2. Conroy, Will. Tucson's Arizona Inn. Tucson, Ariz: Arizona Inn, 2010. Print.  Page 24.
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