In Memoriam: Former judge and civil rights activist Arthur Greenberg

Arthur Greenberg, a former judge who was involved in the early reform of the Peoria (Illinois) Housing Authority, died Monday.

Attorney Thomas O’Neal said his friend’s story was that of the American Dream, saying Greenberg was “one of those melting pot Americans” who cared about his fellow man and acted when necessary.

Both he and [attorney Jay] Janssen recalled how Greenberg would leave his law practice to help blacks in the South. He went to Mississippi in 1964 during the “Freedom Summer,” a project whereby 1,000 Northern college students, mostly white, went south to help with voter registration and make the country aware of the plight of African Americans in that region of the country. On the day he arrived, the bodies of three men who were helping to register blacks to vote were found.

That sense of commitment and passion continued with his service at the Peoria Housing Authority, where he was involved in the early reform of the troubled agency. He was appointed judge in the mid-1990s and served for a few years before losing an election to current Chief Judge Michael Brandt.

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