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Louis A. Bedford Jr.


1926 - 2014 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Louis A. Bedford Jr. Obituary
Famed attorney Louis A. Bedford Jr. died Thursday, on his 88th birthday, after a long battle with prostate cancer.
In 1966 Bedford became the first African American judge in Dallas County. He served on Dallas' municipal court.
His death was announced by the Dallas Bar Association. In 1968, Bedford was the fourth black attorney to join the association. At that time minority lawyers experience racism in the criminal justice system.
"Judge Bedford lived through, and helped bring about, many needed changes in the legal and political landscape of Dallas," said Scott McElhaney, President of the Dallas Bar Association. "He was a humble leader and a mentor to many. He will be greatly missed."
A graduate of Booker T. Washington High School, he attended Prairie View A&M University and received a law degree from Brooklyn Law School.
State Sen. Royce West, one of the many lawyers mentored by Bedford, said the trailblazer had to leave Texas to go to law school.
"His passing comes at a time when we're celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, which he was involved in," West said. "And his passing leaves a void. He was a person we could talk to about different issues in the community."
West said Bedford offered him advice when he left the district attorney's to start his own firm. And he was there when West ran for district attorney and ultimately the state senate.
"I will never forget what he told me," West said. "He said 'the pie is big enough for everyone. Just do a good job.'"
In 1952 Bedford organized the J.L. Turner Legal Society. He was the organizations historian until his death.
His was active in the civil rights movement, working to desegregate schools and preserve the voting rights of minorities.
In 2006 he was overcome with emotion after giving the oath of office to newly elected Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, the state's first black DA.
Dallas lawyer Michael Todd, former president of the Dallas Black Criminal Bar Association, said Bedford would be missed.
"He was a person young attorneys could lean on for guidance," said Todd, who attended the New Hope Baptist Church with Bedford. "He was a true pioneer."
Published in Dallas Morning News from Apr. 10 to Apr. 17, 2014
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