Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

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Ralph J. Temple

RALPH J. TEMPLE was born in England on October 18, 1932. Shortly before his father was called into the Royal British Army in 1940, Temple fled with his mother by boat from the Nazi attack on London and settled in Miami, Florida.

After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1956, Temple worked for Thurgood Marshall at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, until being drafted into the United States Army. A critical formative experience was Temple’s August 1964 trip to St. Augustine, Florida with the New York City Lawyers Constitutional Defense Fund; he worked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others to ensure compliance with the newly enacted 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Moving to the American Civil Liberties Union, he soon found his calling as a civil rights and civil liberties attorney, rising to the position of Legal Director of the ACLU of the National Capital Area in Washington, DC, where he served from 1966-80. During his tenure there, he established himself in Washington as a lion ready to fight (and win) across a broad array of free speech issues. In 2008, the DC ACLU presented him with their annual Alan and Adrienne Barth Award for Exemplary Volunteer Service.

Temple kept up his legal activism and civic organizing in Oregon (where he relocated in 1996), until the day he passed away on August 27, 2011. On September 18, 2011, he was recognized by the ACLU Foundation of Oregon for his brilliant and tireless work on behalf of civil liberties. Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness comprises his memoirs of his life and his work on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged.