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Atlanta — A civil rights lawyer who served as Georgia’s first African-American federal court judge has died.

Retired U.S. District Judge Horace Ward died over the weekend at age 88. Alfonso Dawson Mortuary funeral director Andre Hannah in Atlanta says funeral arrangements are pending.

Ward challenged segregationist practices at the University of Georgia in the early 1950s.

He had earned degrees from Morehouse College and Atlanta University, which later became Clark Atlanta, before his application to the University of Georgia law school was rejected in 1951. He launched a legal challenge against the university that helped pave the way for the civil rights movement.

Ward earned a law degree from Northwestern University, served in the Georgia Senate and was appointed to the federal bench in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter.

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