Students, family members fondly remember Judge D'Army Bailey - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Students, family members fondly remember Judge D'Army Bailey

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)

Over the weekend, Memphis lost a brilliant mind and a passionate civil rights fighter.

Judge D'Army Bailey and his brother Walter grew up in South Memphis. D'Army lost a battle with cancer Sunday.

"When he and I were in high school, segregation was the protocol," said Walter Bailey. "We had separate water fountains, even at department stores."

Walter Bailey felt those early days of discrimination shaped both him and his brother into fighters for equal rights.

"He just felt committed, and when you get that kind of commitment in his DNA, you can't settle for anything less," Bailey recalled. "You can't sit on your laurels and see injustice and not want to challenge them."

D'Army Bailey led sit-in protests during the 1960s and later became an activist on the Berkeley City Council. He then went on to graduate from Yale Law School and became an attorney and a judge.

For many years, members of the Black Law Students Association at the University of Memphis enjoyed guidance and direction from D'Army Bailey.

"His message was, 'It starts with one person,'" said University of Memphis law student Dawn Campbell. "It doesn't have to be a group of people. It's one person that decides to make a change, and through that, one person can create a large movement."

Law students described Bailey as a pioneer who broke down barriers both legally and socially and encouraged them to do the same.

"And that's something he really talked about, is the new generation and new attorneys coming forward," Campbell added. "You know, we have to do our part and make sacrifices as they did."

D'Army is also remembered as the founder of what became the National Civil Rights Museum. In an interview earlier this year with WMC Action News 5, Bailey said the plaque at the museum that named him the founder gave him enormous pride.

However, Walter Bailey says D'Army's most important role was as a father and husband.

"Oh, he was a thoroughly committed husband and father to his children," said Bailey.

Bailey also got a taste of the limelight after acting in 12 films, including The People vs. Larry Flint.

In an interview on WMC Action News 5, D'Army spoke humbly about his success and said his faith was his major motivation for all of his accomplishments.

"The lord has blessed me to put me in time and place where I could join with other conscious observers-- young men and women, black and white-- across this country and to fight and make changes."

The visitation of D'Army Bailey will be Friday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the National Civil Rights Museum. A second visitation will take place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11:55 a.m. at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church on North Bellevue Boulevard.

The funeral will be held at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church at 12 p.m. Saturday. The burial will immediately follow the funeral service at Memorial Park on Poplar Avenue.

Though Bailey grew up in the segregated South, he told students he had no regrets.

"He did so much," said Campbell. "I think that his legacy is that he doesn't have one thing that you can say that D'Army Bailey was. He was everything. He did all of it. He did the legal acting, he did books, everything that he's done."

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