Will Maslow was an American lawyer and civil rights leader who fought for full equality in a free society for Jews, blacks, and other minorities at positions he held in government and as an executive of the American Jewish Congress.
Born in Kiev, Russian Empire, Maslow came to the United States with his parents Raeesa and Saul Maslow (family name Masliankin) in 1911, and was raised primarily in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Under his counsel and leadership, AJCongress was often in the courts challenging discrimination and advocating civil rights. Maslow created the AJCongress’ Commission on Law and Social Action and with it, filed a discrimination suit against Columbia University, demanding that it change its discriminatory admissions quotas. He also filed a suite against Stuyvesant Town Housing Co. because of its racial policies against black tenants.
In 1947, he fought for strict adherence to the Ives-Quinn Law which forbade discrimination in employment, charging that job agencies were disregarding this law en masse, 88% in fact He negotiated with Gertz, a department store in Jamaica, Queens, to hire blacks for the first time. "The negroes' fight against discrimination in employment, housing, education is part of the struggle for Jews for equality of opportunity in those fields."
Maslow helped organize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1968 civil rights march on Washington, D.C. and the Little Rock school discrimination case in the 1950s.
After graduating from Boys High School Brooklyn, he won a state scholarship to Cornell University, where he wrote for and edited the student paper, The Daily Sun, organized the Liberal Club, and in 1929, graduated with an A.B. degree.
His cousin Abraham Maslow, who had attended Boys High School with him, was a fellow student at Cornell.
Maslow received a law degree from Columbia University Law School in 1931.
From 1931 to 1934, he was associated with the law practice of Arthur Garfield Hays--who was the general counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union, and he worked part-time as a reporter for The New York Times. He then became an associate counsel in the New York City Department of Investigation, under commissioner Paul Blanshard in Mayor La Guardia's administration.
In 1937 he joined the National Labor Relations Board as a Trial Attorney in New York City and, in 1941, as an Administrative Law Judge based in Washington, D.C.
In 1943 he was named Director of Field Operations for the President's Committee on Fair Employment Practice (FEPC), the agency responsible for investigating and resolving employment discrimination in wartime and government procurement contracts, and he served in that position until 1945.
In August 1945, Maslow returned to New York to become General Counsel of the American Jewish Congress, and Director of the American Jewish Congress's newly established Commission on Law and Social Action. He was Executive Director of AJCongress from 1960 until 1972. He continued to serve as general counsel of the agency until he retired in 1984.
In retirement, he continued writing briefs and papers as a volunteer through the late 1990s.
World Jewish Congress (executive committee)
American Civil Liberties Union (director 1963-72)
1963 - 1972
American Jewish Congress (Stephen Wise laureate 1972)