N.C. civil rights crusader Julius Chambers dies at 76

Aug. 3, 2013 at 10:52 PM
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CHARLOTTE, N.C., Aug. 3 (UPI) -- North Carolina lawyer Julius Chambers, targeted for violence for his civil rights work, died after months of poor health, his friends said Saturday. He was 76.

Chambers, known for his work on landmark cases that led to the integration of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, passed away late Friday, The Charlotte Observer reported.

His law partners, James Ferguson and Geraldine Sumter told reporters Chambers fought against racial and employment discrimination to the end.

"Our community and our nation has benefited tremendously from Mr. Chambers' tireless efforts to ensure that all people are treated equally," Ferguson said.

"He believed that regardless of one's position, status, race, creed, color, religion or gender, everyone has an obligation to ensure equality for all."

His efforts in that regard led to his office being set on fire, and his home and car being bombed. His enemies also burned his father's shop in his hometown of Mount Gilead, the newspaper said.

"The animosity toward him and his positions was just heavy and real. You could feel it," former University of North Carolina President C.D. Spangler said. "But he never let that change him personally ... . He didn't hate the people who hated him."

The 1971 ruling he won in Swann vs. the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education ordered crosstown busing to end segregation of the local schools. He appealed eight cases to the U.S. Supreme Court, including the Swann case, and won them all, the newspaper said.

"He was my personal hero," U.S. Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., said.

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