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D.C. politics, and the nation, lost a vocal advocate for the poor and downtrodden this weekend with the death of Lawrence Guyot. The Washington Post‘s obituary rightly focuses on the tremendous courage Guyot showed as a young civil rights activists in his native Mississippi, where he was severely beaten and could have easily been killed for his efforts.
“Because of Larry Guyot, I understood what it meant to live with terror and to walk straight into it,” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton told the paper.
But for a straightforward take of Guyot’s legacy in D.C. politics, take a look at Erik Wemple‘s (a former Loose Lips and Washington City Paper editor) profile from 1996.
Since he moved to Washington in the mid-’70s, Guyot has been as permanent a fixture in District politics as finger-pointing and buck-passing. Like Marion Barry, Frank Smith, Ivanhoe Donaldson, and the late John Wilson, Guyot cut his political teeth on the Deep South civil rights movement of the 1960s, then brought the movement north to help the disenfranchised blacks of the District.
But Guyot is the one who never quite made it. Unlike his civil rights colleagues, Guyot never rose to prominence in District politics. Instead, he has carved out a two-decade career as an ankle-biting community activist, toting his sturdy soapbox from issue to issue, hearing to hearing, street corner to street corner.
The full profile is here.