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Spraggins was head of NAACP Waukesha County chapter

Jan. 10, 2012

Paul T. Spraggins Jr.

By Georgia Pabst of the Journal Sentinel

Paul T. Spraggins Jr. believed education and opportunity went hand in hand. Through his work he championed educational advancement, and through the years he also became an advocate for housing, education and equal employment for minorities as the founding president of the NAACP of Waukesha County.

After more than 30 years in Wisconsin, Spraggins and his wife, Beverley, retired to Weeki Wachee Springs, Fla., 10 years ago.

After a battle with cancer, Spraggins died Jan. 3, according to his brother-in-law Richard Mundell. Spraggins was 72.

"He had a strong faith and belief in helping others," Mundell said. "He thought education was very important and the key for disadvantaged kids. He worked to make sure they had access to good education."

In the 1980s, as Waukesha County started growing, changing and attracting well-educated African-American professionals, he thought there was a need for an NAACP chapter, Mundell said.

"Paul got us all together to form the Waukesha branch and deal with issues, such as the glass ceiling in employment, housing and other civil rights issues," said Lillie Wilson of Brookfield, who was first vice president and succeeded Spraggins when he retired.

In 1998, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Waukesha County made headlines when it championed the case of a black employee who contended she had been discriminated against and sexually harassed while working at a Taco Bell in the Town of Brookfield. The case resulted in a settlement.

"Paul was a great leader and a great fighter who was patient and had great enthusiasm for what he did," Wilson said.

The Council for Opportunity in Education in Washington, D.C., a nonprofit, announced news of Spraggins' death on its website, noting that the council and low-income students "have benefited tremendously from his unwavering advocacy on our behalf."

Last year it passed a resolution honoring him and "in gratitude for his service and dedication" named state grants designed to strengthen outreach efforts the Paul T. Spraggins State Initiative Awards.

Spraggins moved to Wisconsin in 1972. He served as administrator of the Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board and then became director of the state Department of Public Instruction education opportunity program and office of urban education.

Before that, he was program director for the Watts Labor Community Action Program in Los Angeles.

Spraggins was born in Mobile, Ala., and received a bachelor of science degree from Pepperdine University in Los Angeles. He attended Tufts University in Medford, Mass.

In addition to his wife and Mundell, survivors include a sister, Sandy, of Waukesha; a son, Michael, of Orlando, Fla.; and a daughter, Michele Keyes, of Milwaukee.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday in Weeki Wachee Springs.

About Georgia Pabst

Georgia Pabst is a general assignment reporter whose areas of coverage include Milwaukee County government, the Latino community, non-profits and neighborhoods.



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