Civil Rights Lawyer Follows Twisted Road To Justice

Mar 11, 2013

Mark Dorosin’s path to civil rights law was never straight. He followed many a winding course, skirting the optimism of teaching, exploring the pride of public office and even holding down the 9 to 5 as a manager at Blockbuster Video.

Mark Dorosin

At each step, his idealism clashed with reality, leaving him to wonder how a person makes a difference in this world.

But he continued to fight the good fight right until the present. Today, he is the managing attorney at the University of North Carolina Center for Civil Rights, and a member of the Orange County Board of Commissioners.

“You look around and you see what you perceive as inequities or injustice,” he told Frank Stasio on The State of Things. “And you either decide that you’re going to do something about that, or you have to accept those.”

Early in his career, he thought teaching would be a pathway for affecting change, but the institutional barriers were too much. After a short stint in retail, he went back to school and became a civil rights attorney. But that wasn’t enough. Eventually he decided politics was for him.

“Everybody who does activism or social justice at some point has to confront the idea, ‘Boy if I could just be involved with the policy making, I could really make a difference.’”

He joined the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, but became disenchanted after one term. He owned a bar called “Hell” in Chapel Hill for a number of years. Eventually, he returned to civil rights law and decided to try his hand at politics once again.

He just started his first term on the Orange County Board of Commissioners. He is optimistic about that and happy with his work at the Center for Civil Rights. He’s hoping it will be his home for some time to come.

“I’m going to stay at the Center,” he said. “The Center is an incredible place. We’re doing really innovative civil rights advocacy.”