Young-Cummings dead at 66

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY -- Mary Moss Young-Cummings, attorney, civil rights leader and ordained minister, died at her Albany home Saturday. She was 66.

"We met in early 1968 when I was an Albany State (University) student," said Dougherty County Commissioner Gloria Gaines. "She came from a family of 16, and it took an awful lot of determination to go from Fitzgerald to law school at Howard University and become a leader in the civil rights movement."

Young-Cummings succumbed after a valiant fight to a number of major illnesses, Gaines said. She is survived by her two children, Demetrius (Lakisha) Young of Denver and April Young of Birmingham Ala., and five grandchildren.

"I remember my mother being very committed to every cause she took up," Demetrius Young said. "When we were little she would take me and my sister everywhere in tow."

Young-Cummings began her commitment to civil rights in Fitzgerald. She was arrested there for demonstrating at segregated lunch counters, restaurants and movie theaters.

When she went to Savannah State University she founded a local chapter of the NAACP, a press release stated. She also worked in civil rights campaigns in other states such as Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

She marched on Washington in 1963, where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I have a dream" speech.

Setting her sights on a career in law, Young-Cummings attended Howard Law School in Washington, D.C. where she earned her degree in 1967.

After a short stint working for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in New York, she moved to Albany to become the first black woman to practice law here by joining the C.B. King firm.

It was her legal action against the Albany government that resulted in the creation of wards for voting. It did away with the at-large voting practice in use at the time.

Young-Cummings was promptly elected to the Albany City Commission. She served on the commission for eight years.

She was then elected to the Georgia General Assembly in 1982, where she served for 10 years. While serving in that body she was elected to chair the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials in 1988.

Young-Cummings received numerous awards for her public service including the NAACP Freedom Award, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's Drum Major for Justice Award and the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award in Albany.

Plans call for Young-Cummings to be buried in Fitzgerald. Memorial service arrangements and funeral arrangements have yet to be completed.