Louis Redding, 96; Lawyer, Activist

Posted: October 02, 1998

Louis Lorenzo Redding, 96, of Glen Mills, a retired lawyer and a civil-rights advocate, died Monday at Riddle Memorial Hospital.

Mr. Redding, who had lived in Glen Mills since 1955, was born in Alexandria, Va., and grew up and was educated in Wilmington. He spent most of his 56-year career in private practice there.

In 1929, he became the first African American admitted to the bar in Delaware, said a daughter, Judith Boardman Redding. She said her father's professional life had been motivated by his belief that racial equality was best achieved through passage of laws.

Many of Delaware's first civil-rights cases were handled by Mr. Redding, both through his private practice and later with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, for which Mr. Redding argued before the Supreme Court on two occasions. He worked in later years as a public defender in Wilmington.

In the 1950s, Mr. Redding represented clients whose cases provided the legal basis for desegregation in Delaware. Two cases, Parker v. the University of Delaware and Bulah/Belton v. Gebhart, served as the forerunner of the famous Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., Redding said.

Mr. Redding received his undergraduate degree in 1923 from Brown University and taught English at Morehouse College in Atlanta before deciding to pursue a law career. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1928.

His memberships included the National Bar Association and the National Lawyers Guild, from which he received awards. He also received awards from Brown University, the Delaware State Bar Association, and the City of Wilmington.

His second wife, Gwendolyn Kiah Redding, preceded him in death.

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his first wife, Ruth Cook Redding; two other daughters, Ann Holmes Redding and Rupa Cook Redding-Lallinger; and five grandchildren.

A viewing will be from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Monday at Bethel A.M.E. Church, 604 N. Walnut St., Wilmington. A funeral service will follow at 11 a.m. Burial will be in Silver Brook Cemetery, Wilmington.

The family suggests contributions to Southern Poverty Law Center, SPLC Development Office, 400 Washington Ave., Montgomery, Ala. 36104.

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