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June 24, 2008

Civil RIghts Icon Dies

Justice Revius O. Ortique, a seminal civil rights figure and the first African American elected to the Louisiana Supreme Court, died Sunday following a stroke a week earlier. He was 84 years old.

The New Orleans native and World War II veteran earned his bachelor’s degree from Dillard University, a master’s from the University of Indiana and his law degree from Southern University in 1956, according to

Ortique began his own private law practice in 1956, working on any type of case but focusing primarily on estate cases. His practice became one of the largest estate practices in the State of Louisiana. As the President of the Community Relations Council, Ortique served as "chief negotiator" for the peaceful desegregation of lunch counters, hotels and other public facilities in New Orleans.

Between 1965 and 1967, Ortique served as the president of the National Bar Association. In 1970, after the National Guard shot to death four students and wounded four others who were protesting the war in Southeast Asia, then-President Richard Nixon appointed Ortique to the President's Commission on Campus Unrest. Four years later, Nixon named Ortique to the newly created Legal Services Corporation, designed to guarantee equal access to the criminal justice system by providing legal assistance to poor defendants. source

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