ATLANTA, GA (WAOK)- Sen. Ralph David Abernathy III, son of the famed civil rights leader has lost his long bout with liver cancer. Just one month ago, Abernathy spoke out publicly in a sermon at Lindsey Street Baptist Church about his three-year battle with cancer that had spread to his liver.

Ralph D Abernathy III preaching at Lindsay Street Baptist Church. Photo supplied by Derrick Boazman

Ralph D Abernathy III preaching at Lindsey Street Baptist Church. Photo supplied by Derrick Boazman

Abernathy died earlier today at the age of 56.

Ralph David Abernathy III was the son of Rev. Ralph D Abernathy and Juanita Abernathy. The Abernathy family stood on the front line in the fight for Civil and Human Rights alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The younger Abernathy left the Legislature in 1998 . Attention was refocused on him last year, when “Selma” came out. He felt the movie shortchanged his father’s role as Martin Luther King Jr.’s partner.

The Abernathys feared the film would portray the family patriarch, who was Martin Luther King’s top aide during the volatile ’50s and ’60s, as less of a strategist and comrade to King during the civil rights movement. The family’s arguments and/or concerns were too little and too late as much of the principal shooting around the state capitol had been completed. The son said Donzaleigh Abernathy, a sister who is an actress in Los Angeles, had obtained a copy of the script and sent it to Atlanta. Members of the family — particularly Juanita, the widow of the civil rights leader — didn’t like what they saw.

He leaves behind a wife and three children.  Funeral arrangements have not been announced.


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