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Ex-state senator remembered for civil rights work dies at 84

MONTGOMERY (AP) — Former state Sen. Charles Langford was remembered as a quiet but determined fighter in key civil rights legal battles as a lawyer for Rosa Parks and the organization that launched the historic Montgomery bus boycott.

"He had a lot of vision, a lot of courage," said Joe Reed, chairman of the black Alabama Democratic Conference.

Langford, who died at his home Sunday, was 84. His funeral is planned for noon Friday at St. John AME Church in Montgomery.

Along with his legal work in the civil rights movement, Langford had a long career in the Alabama Legislature.

Johnnie Carr, the longtime president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, which began the bus boycott, called Langford "a star in the civil rights movement."

Langford passed the Alabama State Bar exam in 1953 and opened a law practice in Montgomery. He soon became involved in legal battles that shaped Alabama, including representing Parks after she was arrested in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus to a white man.

Her arrest inspired the MIA, then led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., to launch the boycott and pursue litigation that led to the U.S Supreme Court ending desegregation on public transportation.

Langford represented Arlam Carr Jr. in a 1964 suit that desegregated Montgomery's public schools, and he represented black legislators in a lawsuit that ended the flying of the Confederate battle flag on the state Capitol dome in 1993.

Reed encouraged Langford to run for a vacancy in the Alabama House in 1976. Langford, a Democrat, was re-elected in 1978 and then went to the Senate in 1982, where he served five terms before retiring in 2002.

Montgomery attorney Solomon Seay, who was Langford's partner for more than 20 years and worked with him on civil rights cases, said he was always impressed by Langford's integrity and quiet, deliberative style.

"I learned a lot about demeanor and how to keep my temperament on an even keel," he told the Montgomery Advertiser, which first reported Langford's death.

Langford's niece, Audrey Anderson, said Langford, who lived with his sister, died in his sleep. She said he had seen a doctor for a bad cold recently, but had worked in his law office last week.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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