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Jamaica civil rights activist dies in Florida

By Craig Giammona

Born in August 1922, Booth was 84 years old. Marshall described Booth as a noted jurist, civil rights leader and humanitarian. He was also a longtime member of the NAACP and was named president of the Jamaica branch's youth chapter at 16. He also served in World War II and was the city's commissioner of civil rights under Mayor John Lindsay.”Daddy believed in justice,” Booth's daughter Gini said by phone from her home in Sag Harbor Tuesday. “He was a freedomfighter, at times I considered him a warrior and those aren't words you normally attach to a judge.” In 1963, Booth, who was president of the Jamaica branch of the NAACP at the time, was arrested protesting the hiring practices at the Rochdale Village construction site, Marshall said.”Judge Booth rose to fight for the rights of all individuals. He exemplified the best of the human spirit,” Marshall said in a prepared statement announcing Booth's death. “His passion for justice marked his long career in public service to New York City, our great country and the international community.”Marshall said a funeral was held for Booth in Florida on Dec. 18. A memorial service to honor the former Brooklyn Supreme justice was scheduled Saturday at Allen A.M.E. Cathedral, at 1 p.m.Booth is survived by his wife Suzanne, his brother Dr. Clayburn Carter Booth, two sons, his daughter Gini and two grandsons.A product of the city's public school system, Booth graduated with honors from Jamaica High School and went to Queens College, graduating in 1946. He received his law degree from New York University in 1954 and became a criminal court judge in 1969. He was designated acting Brooklyn Supreme Court justice in 1976 and served in that position until 1982, when he joined a Brooklyn law firm. In the late 1970s, Booth moved to East Elmhurst, where he lived until retiring to Florida.In 1974, at the request of the International Commission of Jurists, he was sent with former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark to observe the trials of officials from the administration of Chilean President Salvador Allende. He later testified about the trials before Congress, Marshall said.In 1994, Booth was invited to attend the inauguration of South African President Nelson Mandela.Booth also served on the NAACP's national board of directors from 1965 to 1974 and worked with Charles Evers, the brother of Medger Evers, for several years in Mississippi. He also worked with Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1960s.Locally, he served on the boards of several organizations, including Queens Hospital.Reach reporter Craig Giammona by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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