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Young-Cummings papers donated to Howard

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

WASHINGTON -- Family members of late Albany attorney Mary Young-Cummings donated her writings, legal briefs, photographs and other documents to the Howard University School of Law on Thursday.

Young-Cumming, a 1967 graduate of Howard, was Albany's first female African-American attorney and later served on the Albany City Commission and as a state representative.

Howard's law school is recognized as the nation's pre-eminent training institution for African-American attorneys, having graduated thousands of black law practitioners. Among its alumni are late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, former Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder and attorney Charlotte E. Ray.

Young-Cummings, who clerked under and eventually spent 10 years working with south Georgia civil rights icon C.B. King, died in January of last year at the age of 66.

"I think she'd be proud of the fact Howard University had accepted her collection," son Demetrius Young said. "She was very proud of her education and her university. This is truly a feather in her cap."

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

She also worked in civil rights campaigns in states such as Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

Young-Cummings marched on Washington in 1963, where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech.

It was legal action spearheaded by Young-Cummings in Fanny Paige vs. The City of Albany 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 served on the Albany City Commission for eight years before being 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.

"I think the most important items in the collection are her legal briefs, such as the Fanny Paige case," Young said. "She had a great impact in Albany as well as south Georgia, and she'd definitely be honored to have this collection at Howard University."