Civil Rights Attorney George Barrett Dies at 86

Nashville lawyer and civil rights defender George E. Barrett, a founding partner of Barrett Johnston Martin & Garrison, died yesterday (Aug. 26). He was 86. After graduating from Vanderbilt University Law School in 1957, Barrett took on authority figures with an attitude of righteous indignation whenever he thought they were abusing power. He routinely called himself “Citizen Barrett.” Barrett represented Nashville college students who fought for integration in the early 1960s, a rare choice for a white attorney at that time. One of his biggest cases was Geier v. Tennessee, a higher education desegregation lawsuit that lasted more than 30 years. The settlement in 2001 aimed to eliminate the final remnants of segregation in the state's colleges and universities by making the schools more attractive to students of all races. The funeral Mass will be held Saturday at  11 a.m. at Cathedral of the Incarnation in Nashville. The TennesseanNashville Public Radio and the Nashville Scene have more on Barrett's life and legacy.