Democrat politician and anti-racism activist Fred Phelps is dead. The cult leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, enjoyed a, shall we say, symbiotic relationship with the national media.
The first notable cases were related to civil rights. ""I systematically brought down the Jim Crow laws of this town," he claims. Phelps' daughter was quoted as saying, "We took on the Jim Crow establishment, and Kansas did not take that sitting down. They used to shoot our car windows out, screaming we were n****r lovers," and that the Phelps law firm made up one-third of the state's federal docket of civil rights cases.
Phelps took cases on behalf of African-American clients alleging racial discrimination by school systems, and a predominantly black American Legion post which had been raided by police, alleging racially based police abuse. Phelps' law firm obtained settlements for some clients. Phelps also sued President Ronald Reagan over Reagan's appointment of a U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, alleging this violated separation of church and state. The case was dismissed by the U.S. district court. Phelps' law firm, staffed by himself and family members also represented non-white Kansans in discrimination actions against Kansas City Power and Light, Southwestern Bell, and the Topeka City Attorney, and represented two female professors alleging discrimination in Kansas universities.
Phelps' five runs in Democratic primaries peaked in 1992's Democratic U.S. Senate primary in Kansas at over 30% of the Democratic vote. Keep in mind though that this was an unimportant primary because the Republican candidate for re-election was Bob Dole, so this race didn't attract top Democratic talent.