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alph David Abernathy III, a former Georgia state senator and son of civil rights icon Ralph Abernathy, died Thursday morning after a long battle with colon cancer, according to the AJC.

He died two days before his 57th birthday, the report says:

“I knew then that I couldn’t hide it any longer,” Abernathy III told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in February. “That was right around the time Jimmy Carter announced he had cancer, so that gave me encouragement.”

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said he was saddened to learn of Abernathy’s passing, and that the younger Abernathy carried on his father’s work.


Abernathy III died two days short of his 57th birthday. He had a tainted political career after he was convicted in 1998 on 35 felony charges related to false reimbursement requests to the Legislature. Abernathy, a Democrat, was prosecuted by Democratic Attorney General Thurbert Baker and served about a year of a four-year prison sentence.

Civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton released a statement about the loss:

“He was my friend and brother, an activist in the truest sense of the word, and the bearer of the flame of his father, who co-piloted the civil rights movement with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He would often come and speak at National Action Network and we spent many hours talking. Even as he suffered with cancer throughout the last several months, we shared advice and a close relationship. He was a model for continuing the work in our generation and of the generations past. He will be missed. He will be mourned. He will be loved. He was the son of a true giant who became a giant in his own right.”

This is a developing story…