A civil rights attorney who fought to desegregate Southern schools in the 1960s and was pushed out of his University of Mississippi teaching job amid uproar over his work on behalf of Black clients has died. He was 80.

George M. Strickler Jr., died at his New Orleans home on Sept. 2 after a long illness, his son Andrew Strickler said Wednesday.

After graduating from Yale Law School in 1966, the Vidalia, Louisiana, native worked with North Mississippi Rural Legal Services, a program affiliated with the University of Mississippi that was dedicated to providing legal help to the poor. He also taught part-time at the university’s law school.

But the program’s civil rights work quickly aggravated state lawmakers and Ole Miss trustees, who pushed the school to cut ties with the program after its lawyers filed a lawsuit to desegregate two public school districts in Marshall County.