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In Memoriam: Jack Brooks, 1922-2012

December 5, 2012

Image of Jack Brooks with John Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson

President John F. Kennedy, Congressman Jack Brooks, and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson; Jack Brooks Congressional Collection, Briscoe Center for American History.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin mourns the passing of Jack Brooks, one of the longest serving members of the House of Representatives. Brooks passed away at the age of 89 on December 4, 2012, in Beaumont, Texas.

Brooks earned national recognition for his major contributions to civil rights legislation, his dogged protection of civil liberties, his role as a watchdog over government spending and operations, and his part in the impeachment proceedings of President Richard M. Nixon.

Congressman Brooks played an integral role in shaping our national policy from the Cold War era of the 1950s to the global economy of the 1990s," said Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center. "We mourn his passing but his legacy lives on. His papers will provide historians and researchers with tremendous insight into the critical issues America faced in the second half of the twentieth century."

Born in Crowley, Louisiana, on December 18, 1922, Brooks moved to Beaumont, Texas, at the age of five. He attended public schools and received a scholarship to Lamar Junior College. Later he transferred to the University of Texas where he earned a B.A. in journalism in 1943. During World War II, Brooks enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving for approximately two years in the Pacific. 

LCV Cities Tour - Beaumont: Congressman Jack Brooks. Lamar University History Professor Robert Robertson talks about former Congressman Jack Brooks.

In 1946, Brooks began his career in public service when he was elected to represent Jefferson County in the Texas Legislature. Brooks was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1952, where he served for the next five decades until 1995. 

As a member of the influential Texas congressional delegation, Brooks became a close friend of powerful House Speaker Sam Rayburn and Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson during the 1950s. 

As a ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, Brooks helped write the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965; he was one of the few southern congressmen to support civil rights legislation.

Read our extended biography of Jack Brooks.

The Jack B. Brooks Papers are part of the Briscoe Center's Congressional and Political History Collections