Former Tennessee state Rep. Russell Sugarmon, Jr. dies at age 89

The Democrat Party lost a long-time and respectable member last week.

Former Tennessee state Rep. Russell Sugarmon, Jr. passed away last Monday. He was 89.

A Distinguished Career

Sugarmon, a U.S. Army veteran, started his life in politics when it was far from easy for an African-American like him to get very far.

He first ran for public office in 1959, when he vied for the role of public works commissioner in Memphis. It was the first time an African-American had ever run for any office in a major city.

He was defeated in the primaries by Bill Farris.

In 1966, Sugarmon tried his hand at politics again with a far different result: He ran for a state House seat in Tennessee and won.

He went on to serve in the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1967 to 1969.

A Great Man All Around

Upon retiring from public office in 1969, Sugarmon concentrated on his professional career, serving as an attorney in the Memphis Juvenile Court system for more than a decade beginning in the late 1970s.

Eventually, he was appointed as a judge, where he served with distinction until his retirement.

His accolades as both a professional and individual rang out upon the news of his Sugarmon’s death.

Current Memphis mayor, Jim Strickland, said that “we have lost a great man, a champion for civil rights, and a great Memphian.”

Sugarmon is survived by his wife, Regina, and son, Tarik, who is also a judge in the Memphis courts.

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