Civil rights attorney, federal judge Horace Ward dead at 88

AP News
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Posted: Apr 25, 2016 6:18 PM
Civil rights attorney, federal judge Horace Ward dead at 88

ATLANTA (AP) — A civil rights lawyer who became Georgia's first black federal court judge has died.

Retired U.S. District Judge Horace Ward died Saturday at age 88. Funeral arrangements are pending, said Alfonso Dawson Mortuary funeral director Andre Hannah in Atlanta.

Ward challenged segregationist practices at the University of Georgia in the early 1950s.

He had earned degrees from Morehouse College and Atlanta University, which later became Clark Atlanta. But his application to the University of Georgia law school was rejected in 1951, despite his qualifications. He launched a legal challenge against the university that helped pave the way for the civil rights movement.

Ward, from LaGrange Georgia, went on to earn a law degree from Northwestern University. He returned to Georgia in the late '50s and helped in another desegregation push that led to UGA admitting two black students, Hamilton E. Holmes and Charlayne Hunter. Holmes later became the first black student to be admitted to the Emory University School of Medicine and Hunter — now known as Charlayne Hunter-Gault __ went on to become an award-winning journalist.

Ward served in the Georgia Senate between 1965 and 1974 and was appointed to the federal bench in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter.

He took senior judge status in 1994 and retired from the Northern District of Georgia in 2012. Ward delivered a lecture on race relations at UGA in 2003 and was given an honorary degree from the university in 2014.