Press Release from the Democratic Caucus of the Tennessee House of Representatives, July 14, 2015:
Tennessee Legislative Black Caucus Mourns Judge D’Army Bailey Hail legal and civic accomplishments
Nashville — The Tennessee Legislative Black Caucus extends its deepest sympathies to the family of civil rights activist Judge D’Army Bailey. Judge Bailey served as circuit court judge in Memphis for 19 years.
“We are deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Judge D’Army Bailey,” said State Representative Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville). “His life was dedicated to the service of others from his early fights during the civil rights era to his last days defending the most vulnerable in Tennessee courtrooms. He is a legend whose example we must never forget.”
D’Army Bailey was born in Memphis. He later attended college at Southern University in Louisiana, but was expelled for his participation in the civil rights non-violent protest movement. He finished his studies in Massachusetts and went on to receive his law degree from Yale in 1967. Judge Bailey returned to Memphis is 1974 to practice law.
“As someone who grew up in Memphis watching Judge D’Army Bailey, I can tell you he is one of the reasons I entered the field of law,” said attorney and State Representative Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis). “His passion for not only the letter of the law, but the real people whom it impacted made him both tough and compassionate. He believed in people and he fought for them his whole life.”
Judge Bailey’s influence extended beyond the judiciary. In 1982, when the city wanted to demolish the defunct Lorraine Motel where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, Judge Bailey spearheaded a group of local activist to raise the $150,000 necessary to purchase the facility at auction. He later oversaw the creation of the National Civil Rights Museum at the site and served for eight years as President of the Board.
“Judge Bailey created a wonderful monument to civil rights right here in Tennessee,” said State Representative JoAnne Favors (D-Chattanooga). “As a state, we are the eternal beneficiaries of his vision. As a nation, we are the beneficiaries of his life’s work. He was a legend.”
Judge D’Army Bailey passed away at Methodist Hospital in Memphis over the weekend.