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Thu, 03.15.1928

Demetrius Newton born

Demetrius Newton

*Demetrius Newton was born on this date in 1928. He was a Black politician and lawyer.

Newton, a native of Fairfield, Ala. and was a graduate of Fairfield Industrial H.S. Newton then graduated from Wilberforce University in Ohio and Boston University’s law school. After he graduated from law school, Newton served in the United States Army's 325th Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division during the Korean War. After his service in the military, Newton moved to Birmingham, Alabama, where he worked as a civil rights attorney.

He became a member of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights and filed numerous lawsuits that were aimed at defeating segregationist laws. He represented King during the Selma to Montgomery marches.  Newton also filed the first lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He also worked on Rosa Parks' defense following her arrest for refusing to move from the "Whites Only" section of a bus.

Newtown ran for Fairfield City Council in 1956. Richard Arrington, Jr., a childhood friend and the mayor of Birmingham, appointed Newton as the city attorney of Birmingham. He represented Blacks who were arrested during the Birmingham riot of 1963. From 1972 to 1978, he served as a judge in judge in Brownville, Alabama. Newton was former city attorney for Birmingham and had served in the legislature since 1986.

He was speaker pro tem from 1998 until 2010, the first Black person to serve as speaker pro tem of the Alabama House of Representatives. In the legislature, he was a critic of Alabama’s 1901 constitution, which he described as too long and out-of date. Demetrius Newton died Sept. 11, 2013 at his home in Birmingham. He was 85.


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