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John Doar History Trail prepares to break ground

Assisting with the planning efforts and photographed at the future location of the John Doar History Trail are Robert Doar (son of John Doar) and MaryKay Rice (cousin of John Doar). Jordan Willi / Rivertown Multimedia

Construction of the John Doar History Trail will soon begin, and preparations are being made for a series of events to be held Aug. 24-26 to celebrate the life and legacy of John Doar and the New Richmond community that he so deeply cherished.

Doar led the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department in the 1960s, during which time he fought to protect the rights of black voters and integrate universities in the South. He played an integral role in the Civil Rights Movement, prosecuting several high-profile cases including the "Mississippi Burning" trial; escorted James Meredith, the first African American student to attend the University of Mississippi; walked alongside the Selma-to-Montgomery March; prevented a riot following the funeral of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evans; and helped draft the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Doar later served as special counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee's impeachment investigation of President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal.

In 2012, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. John Doar passed away in 2014 at the age of 92.

John and his older brother Tom grew up in New Richmond, and the entire Doar family has given much to the community over the years. It is through the Doar family's continued generosity that the John Doar History Trail will be constructed around the mill pond in downtown New Richmond this summer. The trail will include six interpretive panels framed on limestone, decorative benches, landscaping and lighting.

A formal grand opening for the John Doar History Trail will be held on Saturday, Aug. 26, and will be attended by members of the Doar family and several distinguished guests. Other events currently in the planning stages include a community potluck dinner, panel discussions, a special photo and memorabilia exhibit, programs through the Friday Memorial Library, and an outdoor showing of the Oscar nominated motion picture, "Selma."