CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Julius Chambers, a Charlotte attorney whose practice was in the forefront of the civil rights movement in North Carolina, has died, his law firm said Saturday. He was 76.
A statement issued by his law firm, Ferguson Chambers & Sumter, said Chambers died Friday after months of declining health. A specific cause of death wasn’t given.
“Mr. Chambers was not the first lawyer of color to try to address the issues of equality,” firm partner Geraldine Sumter said Saturday. “He would tell you he had people like Buddy Malone of Durham that he looked to, the Kennedys out of Winston-Salem. The thing that Mr. Chambers brought to that struggle was a very focused, determined attitude that things were going to change.”
The N.C. chapter of the NAACP called Chambers “a man of tremendous courage.”
“His home and his car were firebombed on separate occasions in 1965, and his office was burned to the ground in 1971, during the height of some of his most contentious civil rights litigation in North Carolina,” the NAACP said in a statement. “When he spoke of these events, Mr. Chambers was typically matter-of-fact, insisting always that you ‘just keep fighting.'”
N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper called Chambers “a friend who set a courageous example of doing what is right regardless of the cost.” In 1964, Chambers opened a law practice that became the state’s first integrated law firm. He and his partners won cases that shaped civil rights law, including Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education regarding school busing.