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Civil Rights Museum founder Judge D'Army Bailey dead at 73

By Andrew V. Pestano
D'Army Bailey, a renown activist, judge, actor and author, has died at the age of 73. Photo courtesy of D'Army Bailey/Facebook
D'Army Bailey, a renown activist, judge, actor and author, has died at the age of 73. Photo courtesy of D'Army Bailey/Facebook

MEMPHIS, July 13 (UPI) -- D'Army Bailey, a judge and civil rights activist who founded the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn., has died at the age of 73.

Bailey's family and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton confirmed his death on Sunday.

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"Judge Bailey's passing is a tremendous loss to this community... He was truly a renaissance man," Wharton said in a statement.

Bailey worked to save Memphis' dilapidated Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down on April 4, 1968, to turn it into the National Civil Rights Museum in 1991.

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Bailey was born in Memphis and his professional career extended from civil service to the silver screen.

In Bailey's acting career, he is credited in nine acting roles including in the films How Stella Got Her Groove Back and The People vs. Larry Flynt.

He also authored two books: The Education of a Black Radical: Southern Civil Rights Activist's Journey and Mine Eyes Have Seen: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Final Journey.

Bailey served as a Tennessee circuit court judge for 19 years. He received his law degree from Yale in 1967, and while living in California, served in the Berkley city council from 1971 to 1973.

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"Judge Bailey was a dedicated public servant. He served with fairness and professionalism in the judicial arena," Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell, Jr. said in statement. "Moreover, his guidance and expertise on civil rights and other community initiatives led to greater opportunities for the citizens of Shelby County. All of us at Shelby County Government extend our sympathy to his family."

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