Before Leon LaRue could pacify a rally outside the Augusta courthouse, a rock was thrown through a bus window, and the 1970 race riots exploded.
LaRue was at the courthouse that day advocating for young men in the city jail after a 16-year-old black youth was found dead at the jail, said Grady Abrams, an Augusta city councilman at the time.
“While we were there getting an answer, people were crowding downtown,” Abrams said. “LaRue was part of the delegation to cool down the rally.”
LaRue died on Monday in Louisville, Ky. He was 71.
Soon after the riot, LaRue left Augusta for Washington, D.C., where he earned a law degree from Howard University. He practiced law and eventually became a municipal judge in the nation’s capital, Abrams said.
LaRue, an Army veteran, retired in Louisville after an automobile accident.
In December 1969, LaRue advocated on behalf of Abrams, who was arrested, but released by a judge, when he tried to settle a bad check with a supermarket clerk.
During a visit to the sheriff’s office to get an apology, a newspaper reporter saw LaRue and nine others, naming them the “Committee of Ten.”
“He was a good leader. He was a good negotiator,” Abrams said. “A lot of that is forgotten by the people in this city.”