MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Russell Sugarmon Jr., a former Tennessee state senator, civil rights leader, and Memphis judge, has died.
R.S. Lewis and Sons Funeral Home said in an obituary that Sugarmon died Monday at his home. He was 89.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland tweeted that "we have lost a great man, a great champion for civil rights, and a great Memphian."
According to the nonprofit The HistoryMakers, Sugarmon graduated from Harvard Law School and served in the Army before returning to Memphis. He was elected to the state Senate in 1966. He served in the Memphis Juvenile Court system from 1976 to 1987, when he was appointed to the General Sessions bench, where he served until retiring.
Sugarmon was active with civic and community groups, helping pave the way for future black leaders.