JACKSON, MISS. -- R. Jess Brown, 77, a civil rights lawyer whose clients included James Meredith as well as a young black man who was lynched before he could be brought to trial on charges of raping a white woman, died of cancer Dec. 31 at a hospital here.
He was one of Meredith's lawyers in his successful bid to break the color barrier at the University of Mississippi in 1962. Mr. Brown also represented Mack Charles Parker, who was accused of raping a white woman in 1959. Parker was lynched and thrown into the Pearl River after Mr. Brown raised the issue of jury discrimination prior to Parker's trial.
Mr. Brown was a native of Muskogee, Okla. He received a bachelor's degree in education at Illinois State Unversity, a master's degree in education at Indiana University and a law degree at Texas Southern University.
In the 1950s, he filed what many believe to be the first modern civil rights lawsuit in Mississippi, on behalf of a minister in Jefferson Davis County challenging laws that made it impossible for blacks to vote.
In 1948, Mr. Brown sought equal salaries for black teachers in Jackson. He also worked with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in fighting discrimination against blacks in transportation and other public accommodations in the 1960s.
Survivors include his wife, Jether; a son and a daughter.