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Legendary civil rights attorney Solomon Seay Jr. leaves legacy in passing

Jim Crow and Me: Stories from My Life as a Civil Rights LawyerCivil rights attorney Solomon S. Seay Jr. of Montgomery has died at age 84. Seay was the son of the Reverend Solomon S. Seay, a mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and one of the architects of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The younger Seay graduated from Howard University Law School and opened his law office in Montgomery in 1957, shortly after the end of the boycott, just in time to play a key role in the escalating battles against Jim Crow segregation in education, housing, public accommodations, and other areas. Over the next half-century, attorney Seay, often in collaboration with his longtime law partner Fred D. Gray and/or the NAACP, ACLU, and other civil rights groups, won landmark rulings in scores of legal cases.

Seay describes his work and shares his observations about the people and times in his eloquent and witty memoir, Jim Crow and Me: Stories from My Life as a Civil Rights Lawyer (NewSouth, 2009).

Attorney Fred Gray, his friend and colleague, said, “Sol and I worked together in the practice of civil rights law for almost fifty years. He played a major role in most all of the civil rights cases I handled during that period of time. His first civil rights case, Gilmore v. City of Montgomery, desegregated the public parks of Montgomery, and he went on from there. What he did in the civil rights movement has been felt not only in Montgomery but also in the state of Alabama and the United States of America. Each of us should be proud of what he did for mankind. He will be sorely missed but never replaced.”

A large crowd, including friends and fellow lawyers and judges from across the nation, gathered at the Church of the Ascension on September 19 for a memorial service, with burial following in a local cemetery.

Jim Crow and Me is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.