• Friends, colleagues remember Julius Chambers Saturday

    By: Torie Wells

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Friends and colleagues of a local civil rights attorney say they will continue pushing for equality like he did, as they remember his life.

    Julius Chambers passed away Friday night after declining health.

    "Chambers was 100 percent completely dedicated to bring equality for everyone," said James Ferguson, an attorney at Ferguson Chambers Sumter, and a friend of Chambers.

    Ferguson met Chambers almost 50 years ago. The two practiced law together. Ferguson says Chambers was an inspiration, a mentor and an agent of change.

    "He had a number of cases that changed the fabric of our community, changed the fabric of our nation," he said.

    In 1964, Chambers opened what would become the first integrated law firm in the state. In 1971, he was part of the case U.S. Supreme Court case Swann vs. Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education that led to busing programs nationwide to promote integration in public schools. He also worked on U.S. Supreme Court cases where he fought against employment discrimination.

    "He was a man of great courage. He put his life on the line for the causes he believed in," said Ferguson.

    Ferguson says that over the years opponents bombed Chambers house and burned his office. But that didn't stop his efforts. Neither did time nor his declining health.

    Geraldine Sumter says she saw Chambers just last week. He was still talking about cases and his concern about current equality issues like those facing the Latino community and the poor and middle class.

    "As often as he expressed concern he was interested in how we would get together to address the problem," said Sumter, an attorney at Ferguson Chambers Sumter, and another friend.

    "I have to continue to do those things he devoted his life to and I have devoted my life to," said Ferguson.

    The Ferguson Chamber Sumter law firm says Chambers' family has asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made in his honor to the NAACP-Legal Defense Fund, North Carolina Central University or the Winston Salem State University.


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