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January 20, 2022
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JP O'Hare

(518) 474-1201



Statement from Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. and State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa on the Passing of Regent Emeritus Peter M. Pryor

A giant in the New York civil rights movement, Regent Emeritus Peter M. Pryor was an unwavering pioneer in the fight against intolerance and injustice and a champion of education. He took on those in power, steadfastly advocated for the oppressed, and never wavered in his dedication to equal rights for all.

As a civil rights attorney, Regent Emeritus Pryor fearlessly battled Albany’s political machine, representing victims of police brutality and voter and housing discrimination. His passion for social justice helped bring to light the disenfranchisement of the Black community and spurred Albany’s civil rights movement. He became a devoted public servant and advocate as a founder of the Albany Urban League and served in leadership roles of the Albany chapter of the NAACP. 

Regent Emeritus Pryor served in the U.S. Army during World War II, earning the rank of sergeant. His time as a Black soldier in the segregated army solidified his commitment to be an agent of change through the courts. He studied at Siena College and went on to Albany Law School, where he was the first African American man since the 19th century to graduate, doing so near the top of his class. He would later serve as trustee for both institutions, working in those capacities to increase equity for students of color.

Regent Emeritus Pryor’s work with the Board of Regents reflected his dedication to equality, and he continued to serve the students of New York after retiring from the Board, serving on the Regents Task Force on Teaching. Regent Emeritus Pryor worked to prepare and support teachers to meet the needs of New York’s diverse school communities and help all students reach high standards. 

Together with our colleagues on the Board of Regents, we honor Regent Emeritus Pryor’s life and legacy. Many generations of New York’s children have benefited from his lifelong efforts for equity. We extend our deep condolences to Regent Emeritus Pryor’s wife, Barbara, his children, and all who loved him. 

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