Edward L. Parsons

Name Edward L. Parsons
Born 1868
Died 1960
Birth Location New York

Chairperson of the board of directors of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California at the time the organization represented Fred Korematsu in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the forced removal of Japanese Americans from the West Coast. This litigation caused conflict between the national ACLU board, which prohibited local affiliates from bringing such cases, and the Northern California branch. Ernest Besig , the ACLU of Northern California's executive director, defied the national ACLU's orders. Unable to persuade Besig to follow the national policy, the national ACLU board appealed to Parsons, who carried on an amicable correspondence with the national board to find a solution to the stalemate.

After Besig refused to back down and the national ACLU threatened to disaffiliate the Northern California branch, Parsons apologized to the national board but continued to support Besig and the Northern California affiliate's involvement in the Korematsu case. Ultimately, the national ACLU did not sever ties with the Northern California affiliate.

Edward Lambe Parsons was born in New York in 1868 and graduated from Yale University in 1889. He attended Union Theological Seminary and the Episcopal Theological School. In September 1896, he became rector of a small church in Menlo Park, California, and also taught philosophy at Stanford University. He was pastor of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Berkeley, California, from 1904–19. He then served as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Francisco between 1919–24, and Bishop of California between 1924–41.

He agreed to become chairperson of the ACLU of Northern California's board of directors after he retired from his church career. He served in that role from 1941 until 1956. He remained on the board of directors until his death in 1960 at the age of 92.

Authored by Stan Yogi , Writer, Oakland, California

Last updated July 1, 2014, 9:24 p.m..