SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — An original plaintiff in an anti-discrimination lawsuit that changed Springfield’s form of city government has died.
The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports (http://bit.ly/2tid4UF ) 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.
Information from: The State Journal-Register, http://www.sj-r.com