Civil rights pioneer William McClain dies

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Civil rights pioneer, Judge William McClain died Tuesday.

Tim Burke, Chair of the Hamilton County Democratic Party confirmed the information, but had no detail of the cause of death. 

Born 101 years ago – on Jan. 11, 1913 – in the hardscrabble town of Sandford, N.C., he was an African-American in an era when people with dark skin often were denied basic freedoms like living or eating wherever they wanted and associating with whomever they chose.

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He became a practicing lawyer in 1938. After serving as a judge advocate general in the Army during World War II, McClain came to Cincinnati where he was hired as an assistant city solicitor.

In time, McClain would be promoted and become Cincinnati’s first black city solicitor (1963-72); a member of the prestigious Keating Muething & Klekamp law firm (1972-73); become the first black judge to serve on the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court (1975); and serve as a judge and civil trial referee in Hamilton County Municipal Court (1977-80).

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